One cause of stress: The holidays!

Thank you for joining me for this week’s blog! We started to discuss understanding what causes stress in the last blog – and we mentioned that one cause is often the holidays. That’s our focus for the blog this week.

Why are the holidays stressful? 

  • Anticipation
  • Expectations of ourselves
  • Expectations of others
  • Family dynamics
  • Financial limitations
  • Weather changes
  • The never-ending “to-do” list
  • Grief and/or loss
  • Lack of time
  • Social commitments
  • Staying on track with health/diet

How do you feel now after reading through that list? Are you ready to dive into the season? We will focus on the first two items listed here: anticipation and expectations of ourselves. We will review these to gain a better understanding of how we can make an impact on the amount of stress we feel during the holidays. 


Did you notice that there were Christmas decorations placed in stores and people’s homes before the end of October? The long wait for Christmas to arrive creates so much anticipation that it results in stress. The reality is that the holidays have shifted to retailers capitalizing on our hard-earned money as early as possible. This early arrival creates stress and pressure where we feel like we should be participating in some way – either through finances or materials. 

Expectations of ourselves 

Our expectation of ourself is a major contribution to the stress that we experience and is quite possibly the largest. We put a lot of hopes and dreams into what we expect our experiences to be and when those expectations are not met, the result is disappointment, and ultimately, distress. There is an added complication of social media, where our expectations can be influenced and become unrealistic, which only leads us to failure. 

How can you prepare for the holidays?

There is a saying that goes something like “expect nothing, and you will not be disappointed”. While this could help your stress levels during the holidays, it might not be realistic. We must set a certain level of realistic expectations to challenge ourselves, and try our best to meet them. The goal is to establish a balance of what we expect of ourselves, even though some things can get in the way (for example, finances, time considerations, crowds and traffic, etc.). Remember, keep things simple and be realistic.

To help you with the task of keeping things simple – make sure you signed up to receive our Guidebook on managing stress. If you have tried the techniques listed in the guide and still find it challenging to manage the stress, let us support you! It can be difficult to set boundaries and understand how to be realistic when we are already stressed, so we encourage you to reach out, and we will provide you with some outside perspective. 

In our next blog, we will be diving further into understanding how expectations of others can contribute to stress. 

If you are interested in counselling or would like to speak to a member of our team, please contact us, we would be happy to speak with you.