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7 Ways to Manage Stress During the Busy Holiday Season

December 3, 2019
Published in: General

Family members plating food at Thanksgiving

The holidays are almost here, and we all know what that means: friends, family, food, fun, and for some of us, a lot of extra stress. There's a lot to be done, and sometimes we feel overwhelmed! Along with planning meals and holiday get-togethers, having a plan for managing stress can ease your mind. Incorporate the following strategies to have a relaxing and fun holiday season!


In the whirlwind of cooking, cleaning, decorating, and finding that perfect gift, it can be tempting to skimp on sleep. Think it will be fine to "catch up" later? Think again. Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep to be at their best and brightest. When you skip the snooze, a lot of disadvantages can pile up. Some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation include slowed reaction time, foggy judgment, poor memory, weakened immune system, and extra stress and depression.

To keep your holidays merry and bright, get enough sleep to be refreshed and ready for the day's tasks.


When you have a lot on your plate, taking the time to get your tasks, things, and thoughts in order can be a lifesaver. Try to organize and write down your to-dos so that you don't have to worry about forgetting them. Clear up your physical surroundings if you can! If you find yourself losing things in the clutter, you're probably stressing when you don't need to. A chaotic environment tends to cause chaos in your mind too.

Skip the Drama

Sometimes family brings with them more conflict than cheer, and it can put a strain on your brain. When you get caught in social conflicts, your brain can end up sending "danger" signals to your body, leaving you feeling drained and stressed. Although you can't always avoid arguments and strained relationships, try to give yourself time away to relax. As the Harvard Medical School suggests, you can also practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation.

Indulge (But Not Too Much)

Holiday treats are a great little pick-me-up-- in moderation. Enjoy your pie, but try not to overindulge. Sugars are good for a quick burst of energy, but filling up on sweets can leave you feeling tired and irritable when the rush wears off.


Exercise? Over the holidays? There had better be a good reason to suggest that (and there is!). Simply taking a walk or other light exercise can help your mind and metabolism run more smoothly. When you move your body, you're prompting your brain to release feel-good chemicals called endorphins that combat stress.


If you find yourself overwhelmed with holiday tasks and preparations, taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and clear your mind can save you time and stress in the long run. Breathe in slowly through your nose and out through your mouth-- you'll get better oxygen intake, and prompt your body to slow down and relax.


One of the biggest holiday stressors is feeling like everyone's expectations are weighing on you. When your cookies burn, your house gets messy, or you drop a plate; it can feel like the end of the world, but try to keep a bigger perspective on things. When you have 'perfect' expectations for yourself, you push your brain into overdrive and end up causing lots of stress. Sometimes letting go of perfection is exactly what you need to stop and enjoy the season.

Have more questions about the effects of stress or strategies to cope? Check out our other articles like The Effects of Stress on Heart Health and Tips for managing stress at work and home.