The Truth About Managing Holiday Stress

stressed woman in christmas lights

When you hear the word “holidays,” does your body immediately go into survival mode? Tight deadlines and high expectations to be happy and joyful contribute to increased stress and anxiety during the holiday season. How can you manage this?

Based on an article from stress.org, 69% of people are stressed this time of year because of a perceived lack of time and money. And over 50% are stressed about the pressure to give or receive gifts. 

You may have accepted long ago that between late November and early January, you’re going to be stressed. But the truth about managing holiday stress is, you are in control. You don’t have to live with holiday stress every year! There are things you can do to help mitigate some of this stress so you can enjoy the holidays and come back to work feeling refreshed.  

There are always going to be non-negotiables or factors out of your control. By homing in on the things you can change, you are setting yourself up for success to tackle situations that would typically be stressful or overwhelming.  

What to avoid: 

  • Overcommitting – Try to reduce your schedule to the things you want to do and the things you need to do. Say no to anything you feel you have to do because of social pressures. Saying no is empowering, so flex that muscle and take control of your holiday schedule.  
  • Poor nutrition – There may be endless amounts of treats around, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat them in copious amounts. Too much sugar, alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods can cause stress and anxiety. You don’t have to eliminate them altogether, but moderation is key! 
  • Overworking to prepare for time off – Do the best you can with the time you have, but be aware that working late into the night to clock some extra hours can increase your stress levels. Your work will be there when you get back. Take a break and let your mind recharge so you can tackle the new year with a fresh perspective.   

What to prioritize:  

  • A consistent schedule – this can be incredibly difficult, but try to keep your holiday schedule as close to your regular schedule as possible. The familiarity of eating, sleeping, and moving at the same time, even during your busy days, reduces your stress response.  
  • Mindfulness – Dr. Ryan Toddheadversity CEO and Psychiatrist makes a point to carve 10 minutes out of his day – even during the holidays – to practice mindfulness. It doesn’t have to be 10 minutes, and it doesn’t have to be meditation, but finding what works for you to be more mindful day-to-day will help combat stress. 
  • Yourself – no, it’s not selfish. Being aware of what keeps you in a good mental and physical state and making sure to include that in your routine allows you to put your best self forward.  

“I can get disjointed throughout the day, going from one thing to the next. I’ve learned to meditate every day to reverse that,” – Dr. Ryan Todd, father, physician, entrepreneur  

An added stress this year on top of the typical ones (i.e., social situations, more time with family) is COVID-19. Depending on the area you live in, this may look like scheduling virtual get-togethers, outdoor visits, or smaller gatherings to eliminate any stress or anxiety large groups might bring.   

Nailing each of these tips will not guarantee you a stress-free holiday, but it will give you a leg up when navigating the hustle and bustle this season. Share “The Truth About Managing Holiday Stress” with your friends and family to help them overcome stress and to keep you all accountable. Most importantly, try to relax and enjoy some well-deserved R & R. Happy holidays!