Ways to Avoid Becoming the Grinch this Holiday Season

Tara Youngblood Nov 08, 2022

Holiday stress

The holidays are a time of peace, joy, happiness, and even reflection. It’s a time for wrapping presents by the tree, baking those famous sugar cookies your kids love, and sharing memories with your loved ones.

It’s also a time for blocking out your neighbor’s Christmas lights by closing every shutter in your house, having your relatives comment that your sweater looks tight this year, and watching yourself quickly transform into a grinch from all the stress and anxiety.

But this holiday season will be different.

No matter where you are on the emotional spectrum for the holidays, we’ve listed some helpful tips for you to overcome holiday stressors and enjoy this time with friends and family – and even neighbors.

Common Holiday Stresses

Before we go over 10 ways to avoid becoming an unpleasant grinch, let’s look at five common stresses that will most likely show up this holiday season. [1]

Family and Social Pressures

What are holidays without family? You know, the nosy aunt, the judgmental uncle, and the overindulging cousin. Oh, and don’t forget the critical in-laws. Family visits are inevitable during the holidays, and those social events are prone to trigger stress and anxiety.

18% of Adults Rate Their Stress Level as High During the Holiday Season

Unreasonable Expectations

No holiday party, get-together, or celebration will ever be perfect or go smoothly a hundred percent of the time. Food will overcook, drinks will spill, cookies will land on the floor, and family, well, will be family.

Dietary Concerns

Speaking of food, holiday celebrations and parties involve lots of it. From eggnog to sugar cookies to fruitcake, your diet will be tested this holiday season.

Maintaining Diet, Exercise, and Sleep Routines

You might pack on a few extra pounds with the smorgasbord of holiday food on your table and at parties you attend. And burning those unwanted calories with a workout may not be an option considering the lack of free time you’ll have with relatives visiting. And sleep? Forget keeping your usual hours.

Read More: How to Sleep Better Traveling

Feelings of Sadness, Loneliness, or Loss

This holiday season may not be a time of peace, joy, and happiness if you’ve experienced a traumatic event, family issue, or the death of a loved one.

Below are the common stressful aspects of hosting family during the holidays

Common stresses for the holidays

Avoid Becoming the Grinch

No matter how you feel when dealing with the above stressors, give some of the following holiday stress tips a try. Remember to start slow and see what works for you.

Plan Ahead This Holiday Season

This doesn’t mean you have to put up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving. It’s simply planning ahead to enjoy the holidays with family and friends, while eliminating potential chaos.

Here are four things you can do to plan ahead:

Create a Budget

Since the holidays can be expensive, you could break down your expenses by category such as gifts, charities, decorations, entertainment, and gatherings. Then set a projected amount for each of those categories to prevent surprises from holiday bills.

According to a recent study, around 43% of U.S. adults have a holiday budget.

Make a holiday wish list

Make a Bucket List

Make a list and check it twice to keep track of all the holiday traditions, places, activities, etc. Try not to overload your bucket list, which could add stress.

Holiday Stress Tips: The following holiday shopping list apps will help you stay organized with your gift list and budget: [3]

Holiday Shopping List Apps

  • GiftList

  • Christmas List App

  • The Christmas List

  • Christmas Gift List Tracker

  • Xmas Gifts List

  • Santas Bag

Start Compiling Gift Ideas

You may already know what the spouse and kids want, but what about family and friends who will arrive at your house in a couple of weeks? Writing out a gift list will help with the budget as well.

Make a Decor Plan

Whether you like decorating for the holidays or not, your relatives and neighbors might expect your house to look somewhat seasonal. Start writing down a list of items you have or need to decorate. [4]

Learn to Say “No”

It will be easy to say “yes” to everyone this holiday season, but saying “yes” to holiday parties, family gatherings, community events, school plays, meal preparation, gift shopping, and more will quickly increase stress and anxiety and lead to you becoming a grinch. Manage your time and organize activities you enjoy by saying “no.”

Practice Mindfulness

One mindfulness tactic is meditation which involves deep breathing, walking, and listening to music whenever you’re experiencing stress or need to take a break from family for a moment.

Below are a few ways to practice mindfulness this season. You can choose from one minute to 30 minutes depending on your time, and there is something for everyone.

Take Care of Your Physical Health

As mentioned before, you may not find the time to crush that workout while hosting family and friends, but physical activity is a great way to relieve stress during the holiday season and help with sleep.

Make a Gratitude List or Keep a Journal

The holiday season is an excellent time to write down what you are thankful for. [6]

Couple stressed during the hoolidays

Acknowledge When You’re Stressed

If last holiday season was stressful, then you’re probably expecting this year’s family get-together will be even more stressful. Hopefully, by including some of the tips from above, this season will be less stressful.

Set Aside Family Differences

One thing to remember is you are not the only one who is stressed out. Chances are your relatives are experiencing stress and anxiety by having to load up the kids and possibly the pets to stay at your house for the holidays. So, set aside grievances until at least after December 25th.

Take Control of the Holidays

Try to enjoy the holiday season rather than it becoming something you dread. Recognize holiday triggers, which might include financial pressures and personal demands, and combat them before you experience a major meltdown in front of the family.

Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits

Overindulgence adds to stress, which can increase anxiety. Prevent this from happening by eating a healthy snack before holiday meals, so you don’t consume too many sweets or unhealthy foods. [7]

Monitor Alcohol Intake

There will be plenty of alcohol found at office parties and family gatherings this holiday season. But downing eggnog and cocktails might not be the best way to manage stress, and think how you’ll feel in the morning. Excessive alcohol use can disrupt quality sleep.

Read More: How Does Alcohol Affect Your Sleep?

While people have an average of four alcoholic drinks a week the rest of the year, that number jumps to eight during the holidays. A study revealed that 36% of its participants agreed that “rough mornings” from excess drinking “dampen their overall holiday spirit.” [8]

Nearly 70% of people will overindulge during the holidays more than any other time. [9] If you know you might struggle with binge drinking*, it is recommended that you have someone at the party or gathering to look out for you. Whether it’s a friend or family member, have someone with you that you trust to make sure you are safe this holiday season. [10]

Practice Listening with Friends and Family

It might be that same old war story your grandfather recites every year or your neighbor who constantly talks about her kids’ new school teacher, but listening is important for your mental health this holiday season. However, we find ourselves disagreeing with what’s being said, going over a million things in our head, and wanting to talk instead of the speaker.

The following are eight ways to being a better listener:

  • Pay attention
  • Use positive body language
  • Avoid interrupting the speaker
  • Ask questions
  • Just listen
  • Remember and follow up
  • Keep confidential information confidential
  • Maintain eye contact [11]

Get Quality Sleep

We saved the best tip for last. If you’re already feeling run down before the holidays, hosting friends and family, decorating your entire house, dealing with neighbors’ lights, and shopping for the kids might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Getting quality sleep will maximize your health and reduce stress during the holidays.

Cooling Bed Systems: Our sleep systems are designed with you in mind.


You might not resemble the titular character from Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!,” and you might not have any desire to ruin Christmas for Whos down in Whoville. But stress and anxiety caused by relatives, shopping, cooking, lack of quality sleep, and more during the holiday season can cause anyone to definitely feel like a grinch.

  • If you or someone you care about are struggling with alcohol or other substances, help is available.

Citations / Resources

[1] 5 Common Holiday Stressors and How to Manage Them. (2019, November 19). Retrieved from .newswise website. View Resource

[2] DigitalHubUSA. (2019, November 21). 75 percent of Americans admit they need to escape family during the holidays. Retrieved from digital hub US website. View Resource

[3] Moreau, E. (2021, December 17). 6 Great Christmas Shopping List Apps for iPhone and Android. Retrieved from Lifewire website. View Resource

[4] Lawson, A. (2019, October 12). 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Plan Ahead for the Holiday Season. Retrieved from Abby Organizes website. View Resource

[5] DigitalHubUSA. (2019, November 21). 75 percent of Americans admit they need to escape family during the holidays. Retrieved from digitalhub US website. View Resource

[6] 5 Easy Ways to Take Time for Yourself During the Busy Holiday Season. (2021, December 1). Retrieved from mindful.care website. View Resource

[7] Tips for coping with holiday stress. (2017). Retrieved from Mayo Clinic website. View Resource

[8] beveragedaily.com. (2018, December 19). Americans double their drinking during the holidays. Retrieved from Beverage Daily website. View Resource

[9] Ibid.

[10] MD, B. F. (2016, December 16). Do’s and Dont’s of Drinking Alcohol During the Holidays. Retrieved Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge website. View Resource

[11] Snee, R. (2010, June 21). 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener. Retrieved from Lifehack website. View Resource