How I Handle the Holiday Stress

Jill Price avatar

by Jill Price |

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Holidays and stress seem to go hand in hand! The shopping, cooking, and travel can lead to pressure at this time of year.

I love the holidays and spending time with family and friends. However, I do not enjoy all of the chaos and running around. I love to see the joy on my son’s face as he opens his gifts. However, I dread shopping. The mere thought of going to the mall during the holidays can cause me to have an anxiety attack.

It is difficult to navigate the crowds at the mall on a good day; add in a disability, and it is even worse. I have Charcot-Marie-Tooth, and some days I use a cane, which can make the mall or any crowded place dangerous. I try to avoid the mall and do most, if not all, of my shopping online. Amazon is a lifesaver! It is so much easier to sit on my couch in my comfortable pajamas to shop than go to a store.

I often have groceries delivered, too. Instacart saves me from having to carry heavy items up and down the steps to my apartment.

I don’t do too much cooking for the holidays (or anytime, for that matter) but I do bake and bring desserts to dinners and parties. I have learned to do a little at a time. For example, if I need to bake cookies for a cookie exchange and bring a cake, I will divide up the baking over two nights, as it is too much for me to do all of it in one day. On the rare occasion when I need to cook dinner for a group, I do as much as I can ahead of time. I also will buy some prepared items, such as bagged salad or precut vegetables. For large parties, I use paper or plastic plates and disposable trays to make cleanup easier. It is amazing how much time and energy it saves.

Decorating for the holidays can cause my anxiety to go into overdrive. I am grateful that we celebrate Chanukah, or Hanukkah, because the holiday doesn’t require many decorations. I have one bin of Chanukah and winter-themed ornaments. If I buy a new decoration, I donate one to avoid accumulating an overwhelming amount of stuff — though I do have an abundance of dreidels. Over the years, I have learned to keep decorations simple. After all, the holidays are about spending time with family, not fighting with light.

When the stress becomes too much, I take a break. Sometimes I make a cup of tea and curl up with a good book or take a warm bath or shower. I may work on my scrapbook or craft project or listen to soothing music to relax. I find these strategies help me cope with the stress and chaos of the holidays.

How do you deal with holiday stress? Please share in the comments below.


Note: Charcot-Marie-Tooth News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Charcot-Marie-Tooth News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Charcot-Marie-Tooth.


Linda Crabtree avatar

Linda Crabtree

My husband and I celebrate Christmas very simply. I can no longer walk or stand and use an electric scooter around the house. I've lost about 90% of my hand function so decorating a Christmas tree every year is so frustrating it almost brings me to tears. To solve the problem, I bought a very natural looking, three-foot artificial lighted tree from Hammacher Schlemmer about six years ago and decorated it very carefully. Every year I add one more special ornament. But at the end of the Christmas season, my husband puts a large plastic bag over it, decorations and all, and It goes into storage for another year. I love the coloured lights and beautiful decorations on the tree and luckily, without a bit of guilt, have found a way around the work of decorating one.

Jill Price avatar

Jill Price

What a great idea! Love it!


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