#Christmas can be stressful. The #clutter that comes with Christmas can add to our stress.

When the Stuff of Christmas is Stressful, Not Joyful

We dug out the big plastic totes full of Christmas decorations a couple of weeks ago. The tree went up, and the kids took turns pretending to put the angel on the top. Piece by piece, we set up the Nativity on the mantel and carefully placed lights around each little lamb and shepherd. When we were done, we sat by the fire and drank cocoa. Beautiful, magical Christmas.

Until a few days later.

The ornaments from the bottom half of the tree were thrown on the floor by my curious toddler. Sparkly decorations were dragged around the house, leaving a glitter trail. We threw out at least four broken ornaments due to curious little hands.

I felt like the walls were closing in on me.  I found myself overwhelmed and stressed.

Christmas is stressful for many people, but can the stuff- the ornaments, the decorations, the gifts- add to the stress?

#Christmas can be stressful. The #clutter that comes with Christmas can add to our stress.

Definitely. Because stuff is clutter and clutter can cause anxiety.

Clutter in our homes can overstimulate us, stress us out, and frustrate us, among other unpleasant things (source.) Adding extra stuff onto the normal stuff that my home already holds can only magnify these feelings.

With this extra stuff of Christmas filling up wall space and floor space and mental space, I noticed it was harder to keep my cool. When the baby started crying, and the toddler joined in, and somebody needed a diaper, I so badly wanted to simplify.  When the pressures of life weighed down on me, the excess of stuff moved in closer and closer. I wanted to clear some physical space to take off the mental load. I pushed past crying little ones and started boxing things up. This is called rage-cleaning, and it’s an actual thing.

Annoying Christmas decorations were put back in their bins or donated. Only the ones I really loved remained. Other things, that I held onto for all the wrong reasons, were also donated. Getting rid of the stuff helped clear out space physically, and calm me mentally.

Beyond decorations, Christmas gifts can be stressful, too.

A study from Pew Research Center found that 36% of Americans find gift giving and receiving, and 23% said it made them feel wasteful.

That means, most of us are just going through these motions of gift giving and receiving because we feel like we have to. We find space for the extra toys, clothes, and gadgets because we feel like we have to. And then we cope with the extra stress that it brings us- yep- out of that same guilt.

Christmas is about celebrating Christ’s birth, the thrill of hope unto the world. The way we celebrate does not fill me with hope or joy. I feel quite the opposite when I see piles of gifts and have no idea where we’re going to put them.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to break this cycle.  of get stuff, get stressed out by the stuff, start getting rid of stuff.

The truth is, a part of me loves giving presents to my little ones. And when someone gives a gift to me, I’m truly excited and grateful.  But this year, with the realization that all these things of the season make Christmas more stressful, I want to take the focus off of the stuff.





  • Jasmine Hewitt December 7, 2017 at 10:46 am

    I don’t blame you-we get so much stuff piled up around birthdays and holidays, and I’m the worst at picking out presents for people. I’m already over this year
    Jasmine Hewitt recently posted…A Very Awesome Yo Gabba Gabba! Live! Holiday Show DVD GiveawayMy Profile

  • Susan Croox December 28, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    I’m so ready for a gift-less Christmas! I actually love seeing my daughter’s passion for giving. This year she made everyone gifts. But we have too much stuff. I’m hoping we can come up with a new tradition next year with little or no gifts!

    • leahbmartin December 30, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      It’s so hard when we love seeing our children give and receive! Limiting gifts has been so good for us. Our kids were extremely grateful for every gift they received this year!


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