Just Say “No!” to Holiday Stress

Ready or not, here they come . . . the holidays!

By the time you’re reading this, you’ll be drinking your favorite caffeinated beverage out of a red Starbucks cup, and feeling the nervous anticipation of the holidays.

Unless, of course, you’re boycotting Starbucks because their cup lacks the appropriate amount of holiday cheer.

Bring It On!

Bah! Humbug!

Bah! Humbug!

Who doesn’t start off loving this time of year? Especially a few weeks out from all the craziness when our calendars are wide open and visions of party dresses dance in our heads?

Many of us begin channeling our inner Santa early. Without much forethought, we say “Yes!” eagerly and extravagantly to every request or invitation that comes our way. Sure, we’ll be happy to bake holiday cookies for school, donate our time to worthy causes, and show up to mid-week celebrations even though we have a project at work with a hard deadline. Bring it on!

It’s no wonder we arrive at the New Year feeling like a dried out Christmas tree dumped at the curb for garbage pick-up.

The Big “O”


It’s the number one reason we feel holiday distress, and it can easily steal the joy from the season if we’re not careful. Expertly disguised as generosity, over-commitment starts out with good intentions. We want to be there for friends and family. We want to help those in need. And if we’re honest, there’s also some “fear of missing out” sprinkled in for good measure.

In the end though, that spirit of generosity is crushed by sheer exhaustion, and no one comes out on the other side feeling like his or her best-holiday-self.

A Holiday Wellness Practice

Is it possible to avoid the big “O” and still feel like we gave our all to the cause of peace, joy, and holiday love?

Absolutely! My “Three C’s of Wellness” practice works perfectly at this time of year. It’s an easy, feel-good process for balancing the generosity of saying, “Yes!” with holding on to your precious wellness by saying, “Thanks, but no thanks!”


A warm cup of wellness!

Start by asking yourself how you want to “feel” during the holiday season. Danielle LaPorte, author of Fire Starter Sessions (my personal “favorite thing” last year) says, “Knowing how you actually want to feel is the most potent form of clarity you can have.”

  • Say “Yes!” to feeling happy, healthy, joyful, excited, helpful, generous, spirit-filled, peaceful, calm, and relaxed.
  • Practice saying, “Thanks, but no thanks!” to feeling obligated, over-scheduled, exhausted, sluggish, and overwhelmed.

Hold all your daily choices, invitations, and requests for your time up to those feelings. Pause before responding to discern how fulfilling each request will make you feel.

  • Say, “Yes!” to things that bring you closer to the joy of the holiday season and feeling like your best-self. (Recognize that positive self-care choices play a big role in your holiday stress management plan.)
  • Practice saying, “Thanks, but no thanks!” to those that feel weighty, energy zapping, or gift you with a splitting holiday headache the morning after.

Family + Service = Joy

Celebrate/Change Course
Check-in with yourself each day, and throughout the day. How are you feeling in the moment? How are things going overall? What words and feelings come up?

  • Say “Yes!” and celebrate! when you feel like you’re channeling the joy of the season. Do more of that!
  • Put your wellness foot down and say, “Thanks, but no thanks!” when you begin to feel the weight of over-commitment. Don’t beat yourself up, simply change course with better, more life-affirming choices.

Eat, Pray, Love . . . and Just Say No!

I know from experience that saying no, especially at this time of year, is hard for women. When I make this suggestion in my wellness workshops, it’s often met with a steely stare of resistance, and the question:

“Isn’t that being a tad bit selfish?”

I even stopped proposing it for a while—-recognizing it was an uncomfortable leap of faith for many of my participants. (I try to keep things light and friendly.)

But last month I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert speak about her new book, “Big Magic!” (my personal “favorite thing” this year). She closed the session by challenging us to say “no” more often.


My holiday survival kit.

She warned that unless we embrace this necessary skill, we will never carve out space in our lives for creativity to blossom.

The truth is . . . peace, joy, and holiday happiness need space to flourish too. Loading up our calendars with activities and obligations just because it’s the season to be jolly is a recipe for an unhealthy holiday meltdown.

So, if you won’t listen to me, would you lend an ear to the woman who brought us “Eat, Pray, Love?”

I’ve read her book. She knows what she’s talking about.

My three favorite wellness words for the holiday season are love, peace, and laughter. I’d love to hear yours! 

Feel good. Be Well. Meg

IMG_4589Wellness Prompt: Happy holidays don’t happen on their own! A short session with pen and paper can increase the chances you will gift yourself with the best holiday ever. Write down your wellness words on a fun card (or your Starbucks cup!) Post them where you can see them. Then make a wellness list of a few choices you can make to stay in your wellness zone over the next few weeks. 10 minute write . . . GO!

8 Comments on “Just Say “No!” to Holiday Stress

  1. Once a few years ago I can’t even remember when now I launched my holiday season with the mantra of: no is not a four letter word.
    It’s been life-changing I’ve never looked back.

    • Yes! I’ve gotten quite good at it too, but it’s still a hard wellness skill for so many women. So hard to give ourselves permission to feel good! We can do it, though. I’m confident. Thanks for chiming in.

  2. I love this Meg, and thanks for this important reminder. Although I don’t celebrate Xmas it’s my husband, son and dad’s birthdays and my son is graduating from college, so plenty to do.

    I love all of your points, and greatly admire Elizabeth Gilbert. So glad I found you and your blog. Wise words, indeed.

    • Hi Cathy: Holidays, birthdays, graduations! If it’s not one occasion it’s another. Ackk! Stay cool and just say no, as Liz says. Love her new book! I’m glad we found each other’s blogs too.

  3. I’m already stressed about Thanksgiving lol. I don’t know why either as it always goes so smoothly. I guess we are so programmed to feel the stress of the holidays. I think I’m going to take your advice and say no to it! Thanks so much for the reminder not be stressed. It’s so very important!

    • Hi Carolann: I agree that it’s so easy to go by habit around these things and also to get caught up in the collective “drama.” That’s why I think it’s good to say it doesn’t have to be that way if we just slow down and become present. We can do this! Thanks for the visit.

  4. Saying No to others is a great way to say Yes to the things we need to do for ourselves. When we are running on empty and not taking the time to do selfcare we have less to give. Miss you Meg thank you for being a great wellness teacher!

    • Lilia! To the woman who taught me the value of NO as a wellness word—I have never forgotten our one-on-one workshop together. It was a big “aha” moment for me and a gift to meet you. So fun that we continue to stay connected from afar. Happy Holidays to you and your beautiful family.

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