Hi, I’m Cheri. And I’m an Accidental Holiday-Hater.
All my life, I wanted to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year.” But as November and December approached, I always found myself overwhelmed by dread, guilt, and regret.
Until I learned that I’m an HSP — a Highly Sensitive Person. Suddenly, my aversion to the holidays made so much sense. For two whole months, I had to deal with:
- tons of sensory stimuli
- a jam-packed schedule
- sudden changes
- very little down time
- all the needs, wants, and EXPECTATIONS of the people in my life
No wonder I couldn’t wait for it to all be over with!
If you’re also a Highly Sensitive Person, you know that two months is a long time to white knuckle it thru, just trying to survive.
Too long, in fact.
That’s a full 16% of your year getting hijacked by holiday stress! (25% if it takes you the month of January to recover.)
It’s not enough to just survive November and December.
You want to thrive.
Assess Your HSP Holiday Stress
I asked the members of the Sensitive and Strong Sisters Facebook group “What do you find most challenging as an HSP during the holidays?” Their responses form the basis of the HSP Holiday Stress Assessment below.
Instructions: Check each statement that feels true for you.
During the holidays, I dread …
___ the jam-packed schedule: so many programs and parties and gatherings.
___ the disruption of my routine.
___ all the overstimulating sights, sounds, and smells of the season.
___ the expectations others have for me.
___ the expectations I have for myself and others.
___ spending time in stores with crowds of people.
___ stressing over getting the right gifts for everyone.
___ having to pretend to be somebody I’m not.
___ family drama.
During the holidays, I feel guilty for …
___ needing more down time than most people.
___ becoming more and more overwhelmed as the holidays progress.
___ being exhausted by travel.
___ needing a break from all the noise.
___ disappointing the people I care about.
___ not enjoying having people stay in my house.
___ being a less-than-fabulous cook/hostess.
___ ending up in tears.
___ saying “no.”
During the holidays, I regret …
___ missing “the reason for the season”: Jesus.
___ my emotional reactions to people and/or events.
___ caving in to the “spend, spend, spend” frenzy and then having to pay, pay, pay.
___ falling prey to FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and trying to do more than I can handle.
___ getting so busy that I can’t relax and really be present with my people.
___ promising myself, “This year will be different…” but it never is.
___ shutting down and/or finding ways to numb my feelings.
___ how commercial Christmas has become.
___ not saying “no” enough.
During the holidays, I feel sad …
___ when I think about loved ones who can’t/don’t join us.
___ when I think about loved ones who have died.
___ after the holidays when everyone leaves.
The more statements you checked, the more holiday stress you’ve experienced. Instead of thriving, you’ve just been surviving.
But things can be different this year!
“I wish I could…”
When I crowdsourced the statement “I wish I could finally be/feel ______ during the holidays,” top responses included:
With intentionality, they are totally doable.
Why do I specify “with intentionality”?
Because passive hopefulness is not an actual strategy.
You need proven HSP pre-holiday hacks. Here are my top 3:
1 — Have “The Talk” with Your Peeps
So much HSP holiday stress comes from attempting to fulfill a bunch of expectations people may not even have for us. Find out what’s important and what’s not. Focus on what is.
2 — Make Your List and Trim It Twice
HSPs are idealists at heart, but during the holidays, we need to be realists. So brainstorm that long list of all the amazing things you’d love to do. Cut it down. Then do it again. (Save the list and keep chipping away at it year after year!)
3 — Learn Your Lines
A major reason HSPs settle for surviving when we could be thriving is that we have a hard time advocating for ourselves in the moment. When we’re in the middle of holiday stress, “I’m fine. Let’s go!” comes so much more easily than, “I need to lie down for 20 minutes before we leave.” Practice your scripts now, until they roll effortlessly off your tongue.
How to Be Sensitive and Strong for the Holidays
Have you been secretly dreading”the most wonderful time of the year”?
Do you need an HSP-friendly approach to November and December?
Are you ready to thrive—not just survive—this season?
If so, join me for “How to Be Sensitive and Strong for the Holidays.”
It’s a 4-week workshop in which you’ll map out a personal, proactive plan for more peace this season.
Think of it as a gift you give yourself … and everyone you love.