Countdown to surviving holiday stress

Even if your family doesn’t (quite) live in Downton Abbey, they might resemble the aristocratic Crawleys, as the holidays can be a tricky time. You, too, might have an eccentric grandmother with trenchant views, a brother-in-law with more radical political views than your father, and sibling rivalry over extravagant gift-giving/receiving. 

Stephanie Collins Caven, Director of Communications at Nano (and a Downton devotee), gave us her tips on surviving holiday stresses, with a countdown from early November (hint: start planning early). 

Stephanie and Andrew got married in their hometown of Austin, Texas (and Nano’s HQ) last September. So they’re learning how to create their own holiday rituals as a couple, while also keeping their two families happy.   

  1. One Month before: If you’re in a relationship, and one family lives a plane ride away, discuss whether you’re going there for Thanksgiving or Christmas (or you’re making a new ritual and running off to South Beach this year), book flights and let both families know. Be loving, but firm. You’re building a new life together and need to set boundaries. You can’t please everyone, it’s just not possible, but you can help by planning early.   

Gifts: Because choosing thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list can be overwhelming, Stephanie suggests sticking to a budget and choosing an overall theme (last year hers was “British”) to make gift-giving simpler, elegant and altogether less stressful.

SEE ALSO: The Mayo Clinic also has useful insights here including: Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts; Donate to a charity in someone’s name; Give homemade gifts and Start a family gift exchange.


  1. Thanksgiving Morning: It’s going to be a long day of sitting at that table and mainlining carbs. To counterbalance this, Stephanie and Andrew have signed up again for the “Turkey Trot”, a cherished Austin, Texas Thanksgiving tradition, 5K run/walk, now in its 29th year, which donates millions to help people in need. Is there a “fun run” with a good cause near you? Sign up now! Your endorphins will zing and give you a glow all day. 

Later. Ugh. 6 PM Stress? Take yourself out of the situation, do some deep breaths, find a mirror, look into your eyes and say: “Yes, they’re crazy people, but they’re my crazy people,” and smile. You’ve got this.  

  1. Happy New Year! After scrolling through your IG feed of everyone in their matching Christmas PJs, and congratulating yourself for surviving another holiday season, why not take a quiet walk around the neighborhood by yourself? Bundle up with a warm scarf and hat, keep your phone in your pocket, look at the world around you, have a conversation with yourself – what do you want to achieve this year? What do you want to improve on? Let go of? Set your intention. Be gentle. Be hopeful.   


SEE ALSO: The Mayo Clinic has many helpful suggestions here, including Acknowledge your feelings (You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season); Reach out (Volunteering your time to help others also is an excellent way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships); Be realistic The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year); Set aside differences (Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to your expectations). 


Happy Holidays from Nano! Safe travels wherever you roam. 


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