Say "No" to Holiday Stress

December 27, 2012 tneely

Talking about holiday stress, this time last year (2011), I was a holiday wreck and my mental health was in shambles. I searched high and low for a reason, any reason, to celebrate the holiday season. But I was still recovering from a severe bout with post-traumatic stress and overlapping bipolar moods that left me anxious, agitated and unemployed. My relationships with nearly everyone important to me, including my wife and children, were suffering in some way. Nothing really made sense to me (least of all happiness) and my ability to reason had temporarily left me.

It was an odd feeling, being so pessimistic and not being able to help it. For the sake of my kids, I always managed to be an instant party in a box! But I could no longer counter my inner darkness by being the light of family photos and dinner parties. There was no energy left for coordinating gift exchanges or any other festivities. I just didn’t have it in me anymore.

Fast forward to 2012. Nothing much has changed. I am still recovering from mental illness and I’m still technically unemployed. And even though my relationships are not suffering like they used to, they are still fragile.

Just Say "Yes" to Holiday Happiness

Holiday stress can destroy your mental health, esp. if you already have mental health problems. Changing your mindset can reduce holiday stress.

I am much healthier and happier this year than I was last year because I’ve changed; my perspective changed, my habits of self care changed, my need to make everyone else happy changed. This year, I did not look for a reason to be happy, I simply decided that I wanted to be. I let myself all the way off the hook and only did things that genuinely brought me and my family joy. I just said “No” to everything else. I now crochet unique gifts for family and friends instead of triggering my anxiety in malls, traffic and debt. I host pitch-ins instead of doing all the cooking myself. I let the kids do most of the decorating even if it doesn’t look catalog perfect.

This holiday, I did less, spent less and stressed less to enjoy the holiday season more.

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APA Reference
tneely (2012, December 27). Say "No" to Holiday Stress, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 19 from

Author: tneely

December, 29 2012 at 3:27 pm

I often wonder why people bother with the holidays at all. They have become much more habit than any truly legitimate reason to celebrate unless you're devoutly and blindly religious (and even then you might rethink things). The holiday season coincides mainly with fiscal bottom lines so the fact that people can't break the habit that's been instilled in them by corporate boards fascinates me. Celebrate however and whenever you want. Just because it's December or "End Of Year" is no reason to feel pressure. Live your life according to your own needs and wishes. The "holidays" could be anytime ...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Tanisha Neely
December, 30 2012 at 8:53 am

I often wonder the same thing Elaine. I gave up the Christmas commercialism last year and I am never looking back. I have four kids and I told them that Jesus only got 3 gifts at his birth, so that is all they can expect from me. {Laughing}. But they have been good sports about it and our holidays are much more special and stress free because of it.

December, 27 2012 at 4:41 pm

WOw, such an inspiring story. I apologize about your holiday wreck that will cause anyone with bipolar to just about lose it. Well I'm glad you are happy and maintaining happiness, because living in depression is the worse feeling in the world. Trust me I know how it is to be in a wreck, it is hard. I was in one back in 2009, and I had no one to help me but my mother. I had no significant other or friends to help me, so I can relate to your situation. Well I'm glad you are fine, be blessed.

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