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5 Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

5 Ways to Combat Holiday Stress

We all want to relax and enjoy the holidays, but even the merriest time of year isn’t without its stresses. For all the food, fun and traditions, there are endless shopping lists, difficult relatives, and jam-packed schedules. No matter what’s stressing you this time of year, there some simple things you can do to put for mind at ease:


Studies have shown that practicing mindfulness through meditation can reduce levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. Even meditating for 25 minutes, three days in a row, can improve your ability to stay calm. Who couldn’t use some calmness to help navigate through crowds of holiday shoppers?

There a tons of apps and YouTube videos that offer guided meditation to help you get started, even if you just have two minutes to dedicate to it. Once you get the basics down, you can take your meditation on the road and put those skills to work during in a stressful situation. Stuck in a long line up? At a tense family gathering? Just take a few moments to quiet your mind, focus on your breathing, and repeat an empowering mantra. Acknowledge the noise around you, but let it go.


You already know exercise is good for the body, but it’s easy to forget how beneficial it is to the mind. When things are hectic, exercise can become an afterthought, even though that’s the time we need it most. Physical activity increases feel-good endorphins, which elevate your mood, ease stress, and reduce anger.

Make it a seasonal family activity that gets everyone unplugged and outdoors--try tobogganing, cross country skiing, or simply taking a winter walk. Bonus points if you can catch some sunlight while you’re at it. Sunlight helps us produce serotonin (another happy chemical) and fight seasonal affective disorder. If you can’t get yourself out in the sun or near a sunny window, consider a phototherapy light box to boost your winter mood.


It can be tough to set aside some much-needed “me” time during the holidays when we’re flushed with party invites, running errands, making travel plans, and whatever else we’ve signed up for. In order to make sure you get the chance to relax and recharge, you’ll need to accept that it’s ok to say NO. You don’t have to send out Christmas cards, or bake cookies for the neighbors or attend every holiday event you’re invited to. There are other times throughout the year where you can show people you care without overwhelming yourself.

It also helps to prioritize. Make a list of all the things you have to do during the holidays. Are these things you really need to do? Put the most important stuff at the top of the list and be willing to let other, non-essential tasks slide. Just make sure your priorities include some things that are just for you--a trip to the nail salon, a hot bath, a massage--whatever it is that helps you clear your mind and relax.


Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, we sometimes forget that there’s more to the season than exchanging gifts. Focus on the time of year as a way to reconnect and spend quality time with those we love. When you’re with friends and family, put away your phone, stop thinking about what’s next on your to-do list, and fully immerse yourself in the moment.

Of course, we don’t always like everyone we’re spending the holidays with. Whether it’s the cousin with polar opposite political views or the aunt who always asks why you’re still single, try to accept them for who they are, and even examine things from their perspective. There’s a good chance they’re experiencing the same holiday-induced stress that you are. Regardless, remind yourself the holidays are not the best time to settle family squabbles and try to exercise patience when others get upset.


Work through your holiday stress by talking it out with someone who can offer guidance and advice without judgement. Our spiritual advisors can use their keen insight to help you sort out exactly what’s bothering you, what obstacles stand in your way, and how you can overcome them.

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