5 tips for HSP survival holiday guide

For most of us, the holiday season is easily our favourite time of the year. Getting invited to cocktail parties, shopping for gifts, celebrating with friends and family. But all the hustle and bustle, all the activities and the high expectations that come with the holiday season can be overwhelming, especially for highly sensitive people (HSP).


Truth is, Christmas is consistently identified as a source of stress. It’s also a major trigger for HSP’s, those who really feel the pressure of having lots to do in a short amount of time. As we approach Christmas and the summer holiday, many of you could be feeling exhausted with the day’s activities. You get overly cranky as you weave your way through traffic and push past the large crowd in the shopping centre, with all the noise, lights and smell. You’ve barely had enough sleep for having a few too many night-outs with friends. You have to manage so many unrealistic expectations from family, friends and colleagues, such as when to visit family members and going to parties where you are forced to eat and drink and be cheerful.


All of this could be making you a Scrooge when you want to be all bright and merry this season. If you’re craving for come peace and would want to survive throughout the holidays, I will share with you some helpful tips in overcoming holiday stress.


Seek some time-out

It’s OK to ask for some alone time. If you’re spending the holidays with your family or in-laws, ask to be given some time away from the large group a few hours a day and to be excused from some activities. If you find you can’t keep up with these activities, it’s alright to not to want to be part of it. Take some time off for yourself.


Check your caffeine and sugar consumption

You will get invited to a lot of parties and be expected to drink alcohol or eat junk food. If your participation is a requirement, it is best to keep track of your caffeine and sugar intake. HSP’s are sensitive to these types of stimulants, which can have adverse effects on sleep and overall mood.


Get as much sleep as you can

Late night celebrations, long shopping hours and travelling to different time zones can disrupt your regular sleeping patterns and eventually lead to fatigue. Remember that adequate sleep and rest are important. Take some time to listen to your body and give it want it needs.


Shop online

I suggest doing all your Christmas shopping online. This way, you won’t have to deal with noisy, brightly lit shopping centres, the long queues and the crowded parking lots. Doing so can also ease you out of the pressure of gift selection and allow you to shop without distraction.


Manage expectations

Most people can be idealistic when it comes to how the holidays should be—families celebrating together, sharing gifts, keeping the house clean or preparing a sumptuous meal. Sometimes, when we don’t meet these expectations, we suffer a great deal of disappointment. So it could help to play them down a bit. Focus on just how you want your holidays to be and keep it simple, fuss-free. Don’t listen to what others are saying you should be doing. Explain to them that this is how you want your celebration to be and that you’re happy with your choice.

I know Christmas is all about giving and sharing, but what is there to give if you feel depleted and overwhelmed? Do something entirely different this time by focusing on yourself. You have to put yourself first before giving to others. Take care of yourself, focus on keeping your cup full. Only then will you have so much to give and share with others. Choosing to out yourself first is not a selfish act; it is essential to stress management and your overall health. These tips can help you balance holiday expectations with self-care.

If you are still struggling to cope with the demands of the holiday season, I can provide professional help. I can help you process whatever the holiday season is causing you to feel and work out some ways on how you can manage stress so you can fully enjoy the holidays.


Fiona Stevenson

Fiona Stevenson counselling psychotherapist Gold Coast

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