Coping with the Holiday Stress

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Family-unity_istock-photo-17507571Here we are in this festive Holiday Season full of beauty, joy, love, and cheer. But do you know that medical research shows that one of the clinical triggers for heart attack is holidays like Christmas and New Year’s day? Evidence also indicates that stress management can reduce the risk.

Holiday stress can come in various forms and levels, and from a wide range of activities, including gift shopping, cooking or baking, entertaining, partying, and traveling. Today, I’ll provide 30 strategies that can help you cope with stress during the Holidays and into the New Year.

First, understand stress versus your needs

Stress is a fact of life, even during the Holidays. It occurs when things seem to be going wrong or there’s too much to do and not enough time. One basic way to deal with things when you feel overwhelmed and stressed out is to set priorities and put things in perspective. Keep these points in mind this Holiday season:

  • Materials or gifts might bring you a moment of sensation or joy, but cannot fulfill your inner happiness.
  • Meeting outside social obligations and expectations might seem important, but it can’t replace time for family, friends, and fun.
  • Adjust your standards and any unrealistic desires so as to find happiness or contentment through satisfactory alternatives. Refocus on the “haves” instead of the “have-nots.”

Here are 30 easy ways to reduce holiday stress and change your mood:

  1. Have a dinner with your friend(s).
  2. Go for a long walk on a new route.
  3. Delegate family duties, such as cleaning or baking, to make it a teamwork time.
  4. Give yourself a time-out period. Just take a break.
  5. Go on a tour to see Christmas lighting decorations.
  6. Buy yourself a treat. It could be flowers, a delicious dinner, or whatever makes you feel special.
  7. Take a hot bath.
  8. Laugh, laugh, and laugh! You can easily find reasons to laugh and lighten up by going out to a bookstore and locating a humorous book, finding humorous pages online, or watching a funny video. Or, you can just laugh for no reason other than it makes you feel good.
  9. Watch an inspirational movie.
  10. Meditate.
  11. Start a gratitude journal.
  12. Take a yoga class. It surely reduces stress.
  13. Listen to music and dance with the beat. “Dance like nobody is watching.”
  14. Get a massage or spa treatment, a manicure or a pedicure, whatever you prefer.
  15. Breathe deeper, taking long, slow, deep breaths.
  16. Write a letter to an old friend.
  17. Call up an old friend out of blue to catch up or tell a joke.
  18. Read a magazine.
  19. Take a trip down memory lane by looking through those old photos.
  20. Try a new fitness movement or a new class at the gym.
  21. Go for a bike ride (by yourself or with your family).
  22. Work in your garden, decorate with a signature plant.
  23. Re-arrange your surroundings (a room or the office) and keep it clutter free.
  24. Go shopping or window-shopping to see what’s new in the marketplace.
  25. Visit a pet store or maybe buy a new pet for yourself.
  26. Create or try a new recipe.
  27. Volunteer to help a neighbor, a friend, or your community.
  28. Take a nap
  29. Have a good night’s sleep.
  30. Go outside and gaze at the sky or stars at night.

And one more for good measure: Learn to say NO. Don’t let “Yes” and “Yes” overwhelm you. Trust that people around you, at home or work, will understand when you say “No” once a while.

Choose whatever works best for you out of these de-stressing techniques. Think up your own additions to the list. Finally, remember these important “3Fs”:

The Holiday Season is a time for Family, Friends and Fun.

 Have a wonderful and safe Holiday!


Image credit: iStock