10 Ways to Combat Holiday Stress

By Stephanie Camins – MA, LPC 

verified by Psychology Today

Holiday stress can turn even the most spirited of us from jolly into jaded.  Love them or hate them, the holidays are upon us again.  The normal hustle and bustle of life with the endless to do list has just quadrupled with the turn of the calendar.

What are the most common holiday stressors?

From traveling to overindulging to trying to create the perfect holiday, we can all relate to the following list of the holiday pressures:

  • Too expensive
  • Too busy
  • Too exhausting
  • Too crowded
  • Too much family
  • Too little family
  • Too much traffic
  • Too much food and drink

All of this can result in fatigue, stress, irritability, sadness, anger, loneliness and guilt.  So how do we keep the jolly in the season?  The following tools will help you to manage the extra pressures and the onslaught of negative emotions.

Tools to Combat Holiday Stress:

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings
    • all feelings are ok, even the negative ones
    • recognize the good and bad in the holiday season
    • ignoring negative emotions is ineffective and often leads to behavior that damages relationships, causes physical illness or increases bad moods
    • when you find yourself experiencing a negative emotion, name it, and look to the next tools on this list
    • 10% Happier
    • The Anxiety Toolkit
  2. Seek Support
    • contact a friend, meet up for coffee or a walk
    • attend a support group
    • volunteer
  3. Set Realistic Expectations
    • let go of perfection and enjoy the small moments
    • prioritize
  4. Plan Ahead
    • make a schedule that is realistic
    • create a list that you can reasonably accomplish
  5. Set Boundaries
  6. Stick to Your Healthy Habits
    • physical activity helps balance stress hormones
    • avoid sugar spikes which lead to irritability and fatigue
    • keep your normal sleep schedule
    • avoid too much alcohol
  7. Take Time to Relax
  8. Keep Your Perspective in Check
  9. Make a Budget
    • overspending is the top holiday stress
  10. Practice Gratitude

Being mindful of the the how, what, where, when and why of the holidays will help you stay on track and enjoy the season.

Stay present and recognize all the small moments that pass us by when we get too caught up in the rush.


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