Get A Jump On Holiday Stress (Part 3)

by Doc Orman, M.D.

Get A Jump On Holiday Stress Part 3This week, I’ve been encouraging you to get a jump on holiday stress, way before the holiday season kicks off in early November.

Today, I want to continue looking at some of the internal causes of holiday stress.  In my previous post, I pointed out that most people tend to blame external causes, such as increased obligations and demands, crowds, traffic congestion, family conflicts, and other external pressures, which are normally much more prevalent during the holiday season.

However, these are only the most obvious causes—they are not the full and complete story. To truly understand what causes holiday stress to occur, you also have to consider internal causes—habitual thought patterns and behavior patterns that occur entire within us.


During the holidays, both personal and social expectations are a huge source of stress for many people. The holidays may not be a happy time for everyone. And not everyone feels like celebrating or being in a party mood all the time.

Yet just about everyone feels compelled to look and feel merry during the holiday season. This is a very powerful form of external social pressure that can be very stressful during the holidays, especially if you happen to be in an emotional down cycle at the time.

In addition to external social pressures, watch out for your own personal internal expectations as well.  Often, you can start believing that something is seriously wrong with you if you don’t feel merry or if you aren’t in a celebratory mood. In addition, you can become angry or frustrated with loved ones and other people when your own personal expectations about how the holidays are “supposed to be celebrated” are not shared by others.

Trying To Change Or Control Others

When people don’t behave as we want during the holidays (as well as at other times of the year), we often set out to change or control their behavior. When we fail to accomplish this (oh, let’s say 98% of the time) we end up feeling angry and frustrated as a consequence.

Thus, it’s not just the behavior of others that drives us crazy during the holidays, but rather that people fail to think, feel, or behave in exactly in ways we might secretly want them to.

The answer to this problem is simple, but it’s not always easy to do: DON’T TRY TO CHANGE OR CONTROL OTHER PEOPLE!

Within reason, grant others permission to celebrate the holidays any way they choose. Even grant them permission to “opt out” of celebrating the holidays entirely, if that’s what they want to do.

In return for this “gift”–and it really is a gift–don’t let anyone tell you how to celebrate the holidays either. If all members of your family were willing to let each other celebrate any way they want, or do anything they want during the holidays, much family tension would immediately disappear!

Free Holiday Stress Report

These are just a few of the hidden, internal causes of stress that can cause mischief for you during the holiday season.  If you want to learn about more of them, I remind you that I’ve written an excellent 32-page PDF report on Holiday Stress that you can download for free (no email required) by clicking on the link below:

Have A Stress Free Holiday Season


I’ve updated and republished this report for the 2012 holiday season, and I think you will find it both informative and helpful. 

This completes my three-post series on how to get a jump on stress for this holiday season.  In the weeks to come, I’ll have more to say about holiday stress, including revisiting some of my most popular posts from the 2011 holiday season.

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