Quick Tips: Reducing Holiday Stress

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The holidays are a busy time. They can demand extra attention for cooking, cleaning, party planning, hosting, and talking with family members we might not always agree with. It's no wonder that stress during the holidays is common. By learning to reduce this stress, you might find that you enjoy the holidays more. These tips can help.

  • Keep up your healthy habits.

    Staying healthy is your best defense against holiday stress. You can stay hydrated by bringing a water bottle with you to refill. Try eating a healthy snack before a party. If you don't show up hungry, you'll be less likely to fill up on sweets.

  • Practice gratitude.

    Having gratitude means saying thank-you for what's good in your life. There are many ways you can practice gratitude.

    • Before meals, give thanks to those who grew it and cooked it. Give thanks even if that person was you.
    • Remember the ways—good and bad—that others show you that they care. Choose to be positive.
    • Keep it up. It may take awhile to catch on. But when it does, you might find that an attitude of gratitude spreads quickly.
  • Take time to unwind.

    You might try taking deep breaths or going for a walk. Maybe you need time to yourself after being with family. Even a little break can make a big difference to reduce stress.

  • Make time for joy.

    This could be baking, playing games, or volunteering in your community. Maybe take a plate of cookies to a neighbor. Do what feels right for you.

  • Share holiday tasks.

    Let everyone help with shopping, cooking, cleaning, and event planning. If you really dislike doing dishes, help with cooking instead. Sharing tasks lets everyone be part of making the holidays special.

  • Reflect together.

    Before you say goodbye, gather everyone to reflect. Go around the room. Let everyone share their favorite part of the holiday and what wasn't so great. Brainstorm ways to make the "not so great" things more enjoyable next time.

  • Have realistic expectations.

    No holiday gathering is perfect. Don't let something like forgetting to defrost the turkey ruin the day. Be flexible, and let it become another holiday memory. View these experiences as chances to practice being resilient.

  • Get professional help if you need it.

    The holidays can be a big event. And stress leading up to them is common. Talking to a friend or family member may help. But you may also want to see a counselor before the holidays start. A counselor can help you change the way you handle stress.

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Current as of: February 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health

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