1 Dec, 2023

Managing the stress of the holiday season

Fijian family in park family photo

The Christmas and New Year holidays are quickly drawing near, and as we know, a time that’s supposed to be joyful and festive can often come with a lot of unwanted stress. 

We’ve put together a few ideas on how to navigate the stress of the festive season, allowing for more quality time to enjoy the true meaning of the season with your loved ones. 

1 - Plan and delegate 

Making a plan, including a responsibility list, is one of the best ways to reduce the chance of a last-minute panic. 

Even the simple action of sitting down and writing a simple to-do list is therapeutic, as it gets all those to-do lists out of your mind and onto paper (or your phone or computer). This can really make things feel a lot more doable. 

To avoid doing things at the last minute, get some tasks out of the way earlier. Things like gift and non-perishable food shopping, cleaning, packing, or getting the guest room ready. 

That way, as it gets closer to Christmas or a big gathering, the more time dependent things like food shopping, food prep and cooking will feel a lot more manageable and enjoyable! 

When looking at your family’s calendar, spread things out evenly. You can also plan out shopping days, visits to family and friends, cleaning and organising, food prep and baking days as well. 

And be sure to delegate the tasks. It's all about pitching in to help, so get your family team busy too.  

"E le sua se lolo i se popo e tasi” - "Many hands make light work"

Samoan proverb

2 - It doesn’t need to be perfect 

We know creating memories is important and the satisfaction of having everything decorated and beautifully wrapped, delicious food on the table and family traditions in place, is wonderful. However, it could leave you exhausted and unable to truly enjoy the season.  

Christmas won't be a failure if you skipped a few of the small details. And, honestly, very few will even notice!  

The joy of the moments shared will be the memories that stick in everyone’s hearts. 

After all, the true joy of Christmas is about catching up with loved ones, having some laughs, enjoying some delicious home-made food together while appreciating everyone’s contributions to the celebration. 


3 - Exercise and sleep are still important 

Being such a busy time of year, it might feel harder to fit in some exercise, but it’s important to put that time aside. Not only does it keep you fit physically, but it gives you that time for your own well-being, allowing you a break from the busyness. 

It doesn’t need to be a full intensive workout at the gym, but even just a quick 30-minute walk alone will do wonders for your mood and help you sleep more soundly.  

On that note, get to bed on time too! With long busy days, you’ll need that good sleep even more. Getting 7-8 hours a night is one of the best stress management tools in the kit. And zzzzz’s are free! 


4 - It's ok to say no sometimes 

There can be many invitations to events and gatherings coming in and often we feel obliged to attend them all! 

However, this is not always necessary, and to avoid getting exhausted, it's ok if your family politely declines some invitations. 

A good way to decide is to consider which ones will enable the most quality time for you and your loved ones. Also consider which invites will support the elderly and little ones in your family by being the most enjoyable and comfortable for them as well. 

So, if you’re feeling the pressure to attend more events than you think your family can manage, don't feel bad about putting in an apology in (or two!) 

Just be honest and kindly thank them for the invitation, but explain you’ve got other commitments this year but hope to reconnect again soon in another way.  

It's surprising how many people will totally understand as they face similar situations with their own family schedules.    


5 – Easing financial pressures 

The holiday season is a time of celebration, but it can often put added pressure on the family’s bread winners. 

You can avoid your family facing financial stress in January by keeping things on track in December.  

Don’t buy things on credit and say “It’s ok, I’ll worry about it later”. Simply start the season with a budget and stick to it.   

It’s the thought that counts! 

Remember it’s not all about buying fancy gifts as these things really don’t last.  Memory making by spending quality time together will live on so much longer than gifts anyway. 

Packing up a family picnic and spending the day at a beach or park is always a great way to create these memories.  


6 - It’s about cherishing relationships and nurturing the va 

The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to nurture the va – our relationships and connections.  By nourishing these supportive relationships within family and community, our wellbeing flourishes along with those close to us.  

Being able to give our time and attention to the relationships that truly matter is a lasting gift! Whether it’s in person at a family gathering, an after-church lunch or on a zoom call to relatives on the other side of the world, these connections are priceless. 

This season is a time to sustain and build our relationships and check in with each other, to reflect together on the past year and plan for the next. 

It’s a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with our elderly and new additions to the family, sharing the joy of the season together. 

Cherish all these moments that will live on and don’t forget that big family snap for the album! 


7 - It’s ok to feel other emotions that aren’t all joy 

For many, Christmas is not always joyful. It can also be a time when we miss those loved ones passed or unable to be with us.  

Having emotions like this is understandable, and it’s best to embrace how we feel rather than bottle it up. You’ll be surprised how many people have moments of sadness even during the season of joy.  

This is part of life, and sometimes the best thing we can do for our wellbeing is to keep it real and allow some space for ourselves if we need it.     

8 - Remember the reason for the season 

It’s so easy to get caught-up in the pressures and commercialism of the Christmas rush with long shopping lists and expectations from all angles (which we often put on ourselves). These pressures can often overshadow the real meaning of Christmas.  

As we remember Christ’s birth, and cherish all the blessings surrounding us, remember that this is the true meaning of Christmas.  

It's not about presents, it's about presence. It's not about the food it's about fellowship. Finally, it's not about stress it's all about the Saviour.  

Take this time to unwind and reflect on the greatest gift of all, Christ being with us.


9 - Schedule some down time afterwards 

After the rush of the Christmas festivities and family gatherings, try to avoid squeezing in even more commitments right until it’s time to head back to work or school.  

Instead, block out a few days for your own time, to get some R&R and look after you and your immediate family’s wellbeing 

This way you’ll head back to your daily routine feeling like your cup is still full and not drained again. 

Samoan family with baby sitting on wall at park beside beach

We hope these tips have given you and your family some ideas on ways to get through the festive season that support your health and wellbeing despite the busyness.  

Wishing you and your families a beautiful Christmas and a safe and blessed New Year as we enter 2024!