Is the Holiday Season Stressing You Out?

Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves – Perma Chödrön

Are you feeling stressed this holiday season?

Oh, those holiday ads. Are they getting to you, too? Is your mailbox filled to the brim and your email has more ads than you can count? As Charlie Brown would say, sigh.

Are you discouraged because you can only see your family and friends via Zoom? Worried about when the pandemic will end and when the vaccine distributed?  All of these issues singularly or in combination can cause overwhelm and even depression during this unusual year. Depression and overwhelm is so common during the holiday seasons and this holiday it is even work.

Let’s take action and be proactive

Let’s take action and design our way out of feeling overwhelmed and on to something we can control and feel good about.

Puzzle with a missing piece that says problem in red. The missing piece says solution, in white.

First thing.  Take a long deep breath!  The simple act of just one breath can slow you down, both physically and psychologically.  

Are you game and willing to try an experiment? I love design experiments, developing tiny habits and just mixing things up a bit.  Why not?

What is causing you stress – let’s design it out of your life

Let’s take one thing that is causing you stress right now?  It needs to be something you can control as we can’t fix the pandemic or cure world hunger.

Mine is not being organized, particularly around the holidays. I have more aspirations than could possibly fit in a day, week or month. It makes my head spin and then I get frustrated.  

Here’s the experiment:

  • Write down that one thing – for me it’s “ORGANIZE”
  • Put it somewhere where you will see it regularly – that would be my daily planner
  • Take a deep breath or two and let’s start

My stress

Here’s my version of how my experiment will go.

The issue:  I’ve got lots of projects on my to do list that it gets overwhelming. We are still having things being done to our home, mostly outside but causing lots of dirt and dust. I feel I need to clean all the time.  I’m waiting for my holiday cards that I should have gotten and sent a few weeks ago, I’m still waiting for them.  I’m pulling out holiday decorations and they are scattered around. Who are we decorating for anyway, it’s just us during this pandemic. Think Charlie Brown again – sigh!  No parties, visitors, just us and the dogs.

My experiment

I am going to take on the holiday decorations as my experiment.

  • The house is not perfectly organized or decorated.
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Start with one room.  My office! Make it organized and pretty. 
    • Tiny Habits can help me here. 
      • Set the timer for 3 minutes and clean off the desk.  That’s step #1 to an organized room.
      • Step #2, pick a few favorite decorations and place them around the room.
      • Stepe #3, Light a festive candle!
      • Step #4, Breathe and celebrate (very important with tiny habits).


Cleaning office. One photo is messy office, one photo is cleaned office desk, one photo shows poinsettia on table
On the left is the messy desk (it took 5 minutes to clean up), on the right is the cleaned desk and holiday plant and candle. All in less than 10 minutes.

Another experiment, paying the bills

  • The bills need to get paid – yep, that’s pretty important
    • Pick the time to do it weekly, no excuses!
    • Put that time in your calendar, no excuses!
    • Have a central location for the bills when you do your work, or can move it to a place where you can work.
    • Have all the supplies you need handy (computer, stamps, envelopes, shredder, file cabinet).
    • Breathe, start the task
    • Breathe and celebrate when finished. Yeah! 

Another experiment, working out

  • Workouts get disrupted, it happens to all of us.Good news for me is that I teach fitness classes online 5 days a week, so I have to exercise with my class. Shameless plug: you could try out my T60Fit classes for free for one week.
  • Plan B if that doesn’t work
    • Carve out a little time each day to run, walk or just any movement. (10 minutes can be found in the day – really it can).
    • Pick a time that you know you can find 10 minutes.
    • Put it on your calendar, no excuses!
    • Breathe and do your 10 minutes exercise (you can find some quick ones on YouTube or Instagram.
    • Breathe and celebrate.

Another experiment, that dreaded weight gain

  • My weight is starting to go up because I’m not exercising. All that afternoon wine and cheese tastes so good. Argh.
  • This can have a few steps that will be hard, but you can make is a bit easier being mindful of the relationship between exercise, food and drink
    • Drink a big glass of water before eating ANYTHING
    • For serving meals, use a smaller plate (it makes it look like you are eating more – a great visual hack)
    • Breathe, then eat or drink and celebrate that you at least thought about what you were eating and drinking AND had a glass of water. No need to beat yourself up this time of year.

Closing thoughts

Being aware of the things that can stress you out can help put them into perspective and plan around them.  Take one task at a time and get it done. Then, move to the next, always with a deep breath upon start and completion.  If what you tried did not work, try something different – remember, this is an experiment and you many not get it right the first time or even the second or third.

For those of you who have other issues, I recommend that you write them down and put it somewhere where you can see it on a daily basis then take a deep breath and start designing your experiment. Give it a try.  What do you have to lose?

Remember, if you are depressed, please seek assistance. There are many resources that are available both locally and nationally. If you google depression assistance hotline, you will find lots of options. Please seek help.


Tiny Habits Want to learn more about Tiny Habits to help you build an action plan to grow good habits? I can help you! Go to my Coaching and Classes page and scroll down to the bottom page. From there you can enroll in the 5 day Tiny Habits program – It’s FREE.

Ten Percent Happier Give yourself an early holiday gift of a meditation APP. I like Ten Percent Happier (TPH). It was co-founded by Dan Harris, whose wit and sarcasm puts you at ease about meditating and why anyone can do it.  He interviews a variety of meditation experts and the meditations are led by many of these experts. This is a great app for those who think they can’t meditate.

Want to work on more redesign?  I recommend Results May Vary podcast.  It is a podcast, and a community, to help you design your life. Tracy, Chris and Katia use their expertise in design thinking to help us redesign our own life.  They share stories with people from many industries and specialties who’ve designed their own lives or businesses in unique ways. You can take what you learn and try an experiment, and keep trying more iterations! Great interviews and inspiration!

Want to control portion sizes? View Portion Sizes from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH.


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Sandi Feaster

1 Comment

  1. Joy on December 2, 2020 at 9:59 am

    Thank you. This has given me inspiration. Your desk looks great. I am going to start with mine

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