7 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

By Carrie Williams

It’s no secret that the holidays can be stressful and leave you feeling like Scrooge. You may not be able to stop the tide of holiday stressors but here are some tips to help you manage the stress and maximize your merriment.

7 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress:

1. Turn off the news. Much of it is depressing and sensationalized and won’t give you the warm fuzzies. Better yet, turn off your TV altogether and spend time reconnecting with friends and family. Read a book, play a favorite board game or take a walk. You’ll also avoid a slew of commercials adding undue pressure to buy expensive gifts or indulge in unhealthy foods. 

2. Re-gift, recycle, donate and declutter!
Buying more “things” for people has become a defining part of the holiday season. This year, carve out some time to get rid of the clothes, furniture and toys you no longer need. Give gently used items a second life through organizations like Goodwill, Craigslist or Freecycle. You can even make it a game, for every gift you buy, donate five things you don’t use any more. 

3. Give more.
The concept of giving is so important it’s part of two tips. Research shows that people who give more tend to be happier and healthier. And, the best part is that it doesn’t have to cost anything. Give your time to a worthy volunteer organization or to a friend or neighbor who needs a little extra help or company this holiday season. If financial gifts are more your speed check out Globalgiving.org. (Bonus - you still get the tax-deduction!)

4. Cut everyone (including yourself) some slack.
You aren’t the only one who is stressed this time of year. Go easy on your high expectations and cut everyone, especially you and your family, a little slack during the holidays. Before you react, give it the 1 week, 1 month, 1 year test: Will you remember this tomorrow? Next week? Next year? It’s unlikely. So cut everyone some slack, take a deep breath and let it go. 

5. Exercise, even just a little bit.
It’s tough to keep up with your normal exercise schedule amid holiday obligations. But remember the five minutes of movement that you do is better than the 30 minutes you don’t do. Exercise doesn’t need to be an added stress (see #4 and cut yourself some slack on your regular schedule), but even a few minutes of activity can help improve your mood and burn off some of that fruitcake you just ate.

6. Plan ahead to stay on track with nutrition.
It’s easy to slide off track when you’re sitting at the table with your favorite holiday foods or celebrating the season over cocktails and appetizers at a party. Plan ahead by eating a healthy snack or a piece of fruit before you hit the party circuit. Or better yet, bring a healthy dish to the party for others to share too. You likely aren’t the only one resisting temptation.

7. Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Remember that holidays are really about gratitude and love, not 2 for 1 deals or cars with big red bows on them. Shift your perspective by identifying something positive each time you’re in a stressful situation. Give kindness to everyone you encounter and you can show yourself and others that the best things in life are not things at all.