Friday, November 15, 2019

Journal Prompts to Ease Stress of Holiday Season

Coping with increased traffic, shopping in crowded stores, being bombarded with repetitive holiday music, and worrying about finding time for extra cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, and entertaining can lead to a headache, tight shoulders, stomach upset, and STRESS. 

Updated 11/3/2020

We may add to our discomfort by trying to please everyone. Maybe we project the worst case scenario of squabbles between family members, instead of focusing on the good times we can experience with people we love. 

Perhaps we feel pressured to select meaningful gifts without going over budget. Others dip into savings or buy on credit and feel nervous about the payback.

If any things mentioned above affect you... it can result in jarred nerves. It shows up in deflated energy, physical symptoms, or emotional, spiritual, or monetary debt. 

As for me, I'm among the millions of people whose first reaction about facing the upcoming holiday season is sadness. The pandemic has changed everything and I feel a loss of what used to be.

This post is intended to aid all those who want to make the season less stressful, yet still be able to honor our feelings.

It's not too late for us to reduce or eliminate tension and a gloomy mood. With some foresight and planning, this season can leave us up not down. 

Journal Prompts to Ease Stress of Holiday Season

Journal Prompt 1

Take stock of your feelings about each holiday by listing what you stress about. Then write down your emotional reaction to each. Number feelings according to the intensity; one being least intense and 10 greatest. Don't try to fix your anger, hurt, ambivalence, sadness, pain, jealousy, happiness, or other emotions. The purpose of this exercise is to acknowledge and record how you feel in this moment.

Journal Prompt 2

Jot down a holiday to-do list ASAP. The earlier you start, the better your chances of figuring out a plan that works for you. 

In fact, results of a study that appears online at the American Psychological Association shows that those who wrote out their to-do list right before bedtime, had an easier time falling asleep. 

Itemizing things helps you decide what needs to be done and in what order, and clears out the cobwebs in your mind as well. 

Are there things on the list that can be relegated to others or eliminated? Try to have a minimalist attitude around the holidays. Streamline activities and expectations of yourself and others. This is one of the best ways to prevent disappointments, resentments and burnout.

Then use colored pencils, crayons, or pens and circle each event or project on your to-do list in a color that indicates the intensity or strength of its importance to you. Take steps to advance the one that's most important to you. When you do what you can to complete this task, cross it off your list.

Look at those things still on your list again. Are some things there, because others want you to do it? If you are resistant to doing it, why not make this the year you let go of others' expectations of you?

Use the time to read, rest, and relax. Make your motto "fuss less." Instead of preparing and serving a big family dinner, (unless you love this part of the holiday) have a potluck or let someone else host. 

If you can't think of ways to simplify, use the color indigo to help you access your intuition. Use your inner guidance to pick the solution that you sense is best for you.

Journal Prompt 3

Color research indicates certain colors influence mood, behavior, and stress level. When you learn to tune into your needs and consciously select an appropriate hue for the effect you desire, you feel more comfortable in your own skin and surroundings.  

Today write about those colors that soothe, comfort, inspire, or help you nurture yourself. Learn more about how to wear your colors and feel great about yourself.

Journal Prompt 4

What traditional holiday project are you reluctant to start, because you don’t have it within you to do it? Give yourself permission to switch course. 

Do something that's easy or brings you pleasure or serenity. Write about the feelings that come up when you think of giving yourself a break.

If you need ideas for colorful, fun activities see this or this.

Journal Prompt 5

Just because you've done certain things for the holiday every year, doesn't mean you're obligated to continue on the same path. 

Jot down ideas to create a new tradition or ritual that helps you focus on the beauty, joy, and important aspects of the holiday you wouldn't want to miss. 
This is a simple way to nix outmoded thinking and do something that pleases you.

Journal Prompt 6

At times, do you feel all you want to do is isolate and hibernate until the New Year? Write 2 or 3 healthy ways you use to restore your spirit. Then read Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for Coping from the Mayo Clinic.

Journal Prompt 7

Many people tend to let self-care slip during hectic times. It's more effective to be consistent with health and wellness routines. Include eating healthful food, getting adequate sleep and exercise, and balancing work and play.  More stress management tips here.

Make a list of at least 5 self-care activities you use to maintain balance. Check them off each day until Jan. 1, 2020. 

Be self-compassionate. Prevent overwhelm by practicing self-care. More ideas here and here.

Journal Prompt 8

Instead of writing in a journal today, use this time to reach out to a friend to schedule a walk or run, yoga class, bike ride, swim, or trip to the gym. Mark the date on your calendar and follow through. See Low Cost Colorful Ways to Create an Exercise Habit for 25 colorful ideas to reduce stress by putting more companion linked physical activity into daily living. 

Studies show when we combine exercise with a social connection, it reduces loneliness and improves fitness. For more read In a bad mood? Exercise can help. Here’s the best way to do it.


When I feel vulnerable or stressed as I do now, I refrain from comparing myself or my circumstance to anyone else's. 

I take a few moments to journal to vent my emotions, get out frustrations, and serve as a  dedicated place to express happy moments and simple joys in daily living. 

Additional ways to brighten the holiday season...

Run errands for a shut-in neighbor, relative, or friend.

Send a note or card to someone you need to forgive. This may help you lighten your baggage from the old year and not bring it into the new one.

Affirm that part of you that needs to be reminded to count your blessings. Discover tips to help you create a gratitude journal here. 

The law of attraction works. Any time we focus on goodness in our lives it multiplies. 

Please comment in the space provided. 

Which journal prompts sound like they would help you?

What colors remind you to relax and kick back? 

What exciting, spiritual, or fun things do you enjoy about the holidays? What colors symbolize that for you?

How do you pace yourself so you can do more of what makes you feel joy?

Happy Holidays Dear Readers. I'm grateful for you!