Anger Management: Holiday Edition

As the holidays draw near, the mere mention of Thanksgiving or Christmas may find us sifting through memories that gradually give way to things more pressing, like our holiday hopes and dreams.

But unbeknownst to us, there’s a silent partner to our grand plans; an imperceptible burden that accompanies all great expectations.

Sometimes expecting the best positions us, ironically, to experience the worst. Even under peak circumstances, unmet expectations can lead to frustration, and over time, escalate to anger.

Recipe for Disaster


  • Pre-season with a pinch of pressure and a dash of daily chaos.
  • Fold in some holiday stress (overscheduled, over-budget, overwhelmed) at regular intervals; consistently stir things up.
  • Pile on ambitious expectations – those you hold for yourself and others. Don’t forget what others expect of you.
  • Simmer all season. Don’t let this pot boil over!

Undue seasonal stress and fallout from unmet expectations leaves us struggling to manage our anger, much less, enjoy the moment.  And isn’t that what the holidays are really all about? Celebrating Peace, Love and Joy?

How many of us, having survived another frenzied holiday, vowed to simplify next year, only to wearily watch our resolve dissolve amid routine commitments to endless invitations, with nary a second thought?

The problem? Overcommitting.

The solution? Three simple words, Less Is More. This is not just another trendy phrase. Less is More can be your mission, your mantra to mental wellness and a surprisingly clever shield to deflect incoming expectations.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it can be if you remember another three simple words: Just Say No.

While it’s not feasible to say No to everything, we can prioritize our commitments, reduce the events we choose to participate in, and adjust our level of involvement in all things Holiday.

  • The annual cookie exchange… Must you bake a dozen different kinds? How about half a dozen?
  • Hand-made Christmas cards (that bring a great sense of satisfaction, but probably get tossed in less time than it takes to say Happy Holidays)…How about hand-crafting a special page for your Christmas album for you and your family to enjoy year after year?
  • Searching endlessly for that perfect gift for Uncle Joe…a gift card can be the perfect gift for anyone, especially in this economy.
  • Christmas tree decorations…resist that primal urge to rearrange all your kids seemingly indiscriminately hung decorations – even that one-square-foot area that became home to nearly half your ornaments.
  • Photographer turned Control Freak…While it’s nice to have some holiday photos to capture the magic, the magic fades fast when you stage and re-enact every event “for nostalgia’s sake.”

If they haven’t yet, invitations will soon be coming your way. Before you instinctively commit to all those well-intended events, stop for a moment, and remember your anger management mission, Less is More.