holiday stress

How Do You Handle Holiday Stress?

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Let’s be real for a second: holiday stress will arrive. And soon.

A partial list of the common factors:

  • Kids
  • Family meshing
  • Work
  • Shopping
  • Lots of parties/commitments
  • The part we often ignore: the holidays can be depressing too (first one without a loved one, etc.)
  • Juggling everything

So how do you cope?

Be intentional. From a good article on practical tips for avoiding holiday stress:

By making the conscious decision to open yourself to true well-being and happiness, you’ll be more likely not to miss those uplifting moments and even begin to have your radar out for them. Psychiatrist Dan Siegel argues that by setting your intention, you “prime” your brain to be ready for positive experiences. And this can spur a positive cycle of happiness: Research by psychologist Barbara Fredrickson shows that when we allow ourselves to feel positive emotions, we become more open and sensitive to future positive experiences, bringing us even more of those good feelings down the line.

OK, so that’s a good place to start. Just tell yourself “This is going to be a fun and productive holiday season. I’ll love it and be happy.” Allow yourself to be positive.

Set priorities. Priority-setting is a good tactic for work especially, because workplaces are often known as a place of limited priority — or competing priorities. Usually, a person’s top priority during the holiday season is going to be their family. If that’s the case, prioritize them. Spend time with them. Cocoa! Apple picking! Fires! Date nights! (We’ll actually have a list of some fall activities in the next few weeks on this blog.) But if you know your priorities, it’s easier to navigate towards them — and once you do that, you’ll be a little less stressed during the season.

Work out. It can sometimes feel like “another thing to do,” but try to put up 40-60 minutes/day for this, even if it’s just brisk walking outside. It will give you a better attitude and reset you.

Forgive and forget. From Psychology Today:

Learn forgiveness and acceptance. If some of your relatives have always acted out or made you feel bad, chances are that won’t change. If you know what you’re getting into, it will be easier to not let them push your buttons. If things get uncomfortable go to a movie or for a drive and adjust your attitude.


See movies. “There’s no time!” There is — and usually this season is when Oscar winners and blockbusters alike are sharing theaters.

Smell citrus. Yep:

Researchers studying depression have found that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.

For an all-day pick-me-up, dab a little lemon or orange essential oil on a handkerchief to tuck in your pocket.

Laugh. What cracks you up? Gravitate towards that.

Realize you’re not going to be perfect. No one is.

Don’t drink a ton at holiday parties. Bad for health and potentially reputation, and might just cause you more stress the next day.

Volunteer. It’s good for the soul. (And the community!)

Practice gratitude. From Self:

Remind yourself of everything that makes your life wonderful, and of exactly why you appreciate those things. Every morning (or just when you’re feeling extra low), jot down a few things that you’re grateful for. You may even enjoy sending a thank-you note to someone you love, or baking them a few extra holiday cookies.

More magnesium. To wit:

Most Americans are magnesium deficient.  Magnesium is a mineral that we need and can help your body handle stress.  I have three favorite ways of getting magnesium.  One is to take an magnesium bath.  The second is to use a magnesium powder as a tea. The third is to use a magnesium oil spray.  My whole family takes daily doses of magnesium, to help us maintain optimal wellness, sleep well and deal with stressful situations.  Try it and see if it helps you!

Alright, that’s a decent-sized list. Anything else you’d add?

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