Managing anger and frustration during the holidays

We’ve always been surrounded by images of happy family gatherings and beautifully framed holiday moments. Quite often, we fall short. With the joy that the holidays can bring there’s also fussy, exhausted children, bickering relatives, and meals that look nothing like the ones you saw on Pinterest.

The feeling that you’ve somehow fallen short of what the holidays “should be”, or the feeling that you’re missing out because everyone else is happy,  can bring about feelings of anger, irritation, helplessness, disappointment and frustration. So what are the causes of anger and irritability and what can we do about it?

Shopping (usually involving public transport)

The people. The crowds. Are you one of the people who can’t stand fighting crowds lined up to get the best deals when stores open for Black Friday? I dealt with my share of those aggravations when my girls were younger and I wanted to get them lots of toys and other presents, as parents do.

Other shoppers jostled and crowded me out of contention for desired merchandise. I’d become exhausted and get headaches standing in long checkout lines. Even when I’d score a few bargains there was a minimum thrill of victory. Don’t get me wrong… I adore going to the shops and I love sales, but something about holiday shopping in big crowds makes me a bit cringy.

The pushing and shoving and there are SO MANY PEOPLE ON THE TRAIN OMG! Even if you do what most folks do these days and buy online, public transport is still jam-packed.

So what can you do? 

Time Your Trip Well

Days like Black Friday are going to be swamped no matter when you do your shopping, but some smart thinking can help minimize the crowds. Research has shown that Monday and Tuesday are generally slower shopping days for malls and shopping centres, and you’re more likely to find sparse crowds right after stores open and right before they close. Aim for one of these extremes and enjoy a smoother trip.

Skip the checkout line

Any experienced shopper knows that finding the perfect gift is only half the holiday shopping battle. Standing in line to check out can be an adventure in its own right, but with the right mobile payment app, you may be able to skip the checkout line entirely. With a service like PayPal Wallet, you can use your phone to securely pay for your selection and step to the front of the line to pick up your gift.  Thank God for the Click and Collect Service.

Go outside

Try an outside mall or shopping centre instead of a crowded indoor mall. This allows you to walk around and not be closed in with the crowds, and you don’t have to do your shopping on your computer at home

Plan your shopping days

December 13 is the least-crowded day for stores during the holiday season.

Gift Cards

Just as easy as shopping online, buying a gift card is a great way to beat the crowds. You can even buy one online, making everything easier. A gift card for use at a store or online shop takes the decision making process out of the shopping equation. Using a gift card may afford you the opportunity of buying presents that are outside the gift box, making a unique choice for Christmas.


Holiday hype is hard to resist. You probably don’t realise it, but movies, advertisements and songs leak into your subconscious. You’re trying to be all things to all people, create the perfect Christmas and working your fingers to the bone. Before you know it you’re exhausted and overwhelmed and for good reason. You are NOT the spirit of Father Christmas personified!

Family Tension

Oh, all the activities – frenzied dinners to group shopping trips to family holiday parties – often put bonds with family and friends under a wee microscope where every past transgression can be seen for miles. All this ‘togetherness’ can strain even the healthiest relationships. As the holidays approach, take a step back and get real with yourself this time of year.

If you don’t get along famously with someone in your family… it’s OKAY to limit your time with them. It’s action time again people, take care of yourself because others certainly won’t be inclined.

  • Talk to an ally. Disagreements with or about your family can make others feel threatened or defensive. Find someone within your family circle you trust and make a plan.

  • Brake for a break! Do not wait until you’re so frustrated that you get into a yelling match. If Uncle Marvin is grating on your nerves, take a break and walk away from the situation for a moment. A quick trip outdoors or a jaunt to the store can give you the breathing space you need to calm down before you cover him in gravy.

  • What can you change? Sometimes, it’s not your family members who are grumpy and disagreeable. Maybe it’s you. You may not be able to change them, but you can change yourself and your personal reaction to situations.

Financial Limitations

But I HAVE to HAVE the £500 Hoverboard MOM! Everyone else is getting one for Christmas!

Oh. Oh my. The expectations and limitations are glaring this time of year aren’t they? The need to keep up with everyone else’s Santa Bag and the need to buy, buy, buy for everyone who’s ever done anything nice to you is overwhelming to say the least.

The stresses of holiday overspending can jump start the holiday blues like nothing else.

Set a budget before you start buying, and then stick to it. Take a copy of the budget with you on shopping trips, and mark off items as you purchase them. It’s okay to be realistic. It’s more than okay… it’s a necessity. Why on Earth would you overspend for one single day and then be frantic about paying it off the rest of the year?

The biggest advice I can give you is to TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF THIS CHRISTMAS! Do you find yourself angry or frustrated at the holidays? What do you do to calm yourself down? I’d love to talk about this with you on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.