Holiday Stress Management


Identify the specific causes of your holiday stress. What are the factors that are causing the most stress and anxiety for you? Money worries? Underlying tensions with certain family members? Then do what you can to address those issues. Try to find free holiday activities or gifts. Come up with ways you can either resolve or temporarily set aside conflict with a feuding family member.


Let go of perfection.

Don’t put too much emphasis on making everything perfect. Those magazine spreads showing gorgeous holiday decorations and feasts were prepared by teams of designers. Since you probably don’t have a full-time staff at your disposal, set more realistic expectations for yourself.


Make a list.

Santa isn’t the only one who should be making a list. Write down your wish list of things you’d like to accomplish and be ruthless about whittling it down to things you must do. Would it be great to hand-make gifts and give out gorgeously-decorated cookies baked from scratch to friends, family, your child’s teachers and the mailman? Sure. Is it realistic for you to try to do that and still be able to do things like, oh, sleep? Only you can decide for yourself.


Talk to a friend.

Take a break from holiday shopping and preparation to call a friend or meet her over a cup of tea. Letting out your feelings to a supportive friend can be an invaluable, and an important way to relieve holiday stress or any kind of stress and anxiety.


Let others help.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of having to cook an entire meal for Christmas or decorating for a party or tending to houseguests, have others pitch in. Why not make Christmas meals pot luck and have family members bring something to the table? If you have a relative who is crafty, ask that person to organize the decorations. Grade-school age children can also help by doing age-appropriate chores such as vacuuming or sweeping floors and tidying up rooms. You can even hire a neighborhood teen to come and lead your kids as they clean and organize the house so that you can tend to other holiday preparations.


Get in some exercise.

Hectic holiday schedules can often throw a wrench into regular routines, such as making time for exercise and eating a healthy diet. Ironically, not taking care of yourself can cause more stress and anxiety, leading to a vicious circle of holiday stress.



Even if your hectic holiday schedule only allows you to spend a few minutes on yourself, take that time to go someplace quiet to recharge your batteries. Wherever and however you refresh your spirit depends on your individual preference. It could be a few minutes of quiet in a church, or a walk in a park. You could even take yourself to a day spa for a manicure and quick neck massage. Another quick and no-cost idea: Go into an empty room in your house, hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door, and do some stretches while listening to some soothing music or sounds of nature.