Five Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress


Kathleen Toblesky

Depression and stress hit hard around the holidays.

Kathleen Toblesky, Photojournalist

The holidays can be stressful for anyone: planning the gifts, managing your budget, preparing yourself for all the family members coming to visit, freaking out over whether or not everyone will like the gifts you chose for them, dreading studying over break for upcoming finals, you name it. Luckily, there are some easy stress-relief methods you can do before the holidays!

Realize that not everything has to be perfect. The Hallmark Christmas isn’t realistic. Traditions that you and your family have done for years don’t have to be exactly the same forever: as Mayo Clinic puts it, “As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well.” New and unfamiliar experiences are just a chance for your family to grow closer as the times change.
Set aside the differences between you and your family members. Whoever you are visiting (or whoever is visiting you), remember that they are family. The holidays are a time for all of you to have fun and show how much you love each other. Disputes are natural for any family, especially when you’re forced to sit next to annoying Aunt Betty at the dinner table. But put those aside for later and give yourself a chance to enjoy time with your family, no matter how crazy they are.
Take some time for yourself! No one can be always on the move or have constant attention or pressure on them. Spend some time, even just 15 minutes, to be by yourself and take a breather. Reduce stress by listening to some soothing music, taking a walk, reading that book you’ve been meaning to finish, or just meditating.
Find the positive. Under stress, it can be easy to nitpick at every little thing that’s going wrong. How can you be happy with the holidays if people keep pushing what they want onto you? For example, if your grandma won’t stop urging you to eat more of her pie, or if your aunt keeps leaving wet lipstick marks all over your face, take a moment to appreciate that that’s just how they’re showing how much they love you. Family can be overwhelming, but at the end of the day, you all endure each other’s frustrating habits because you’re just showing your appreciation for having one another. Think about why you’re grateful to have them in your life rather than all the things that annoy you.
Stay away from too many snack foods. While it can be tempting to go straight for the Christmas cookies, sugary foods are not the best option for your health. Psychology Today recommends sticking to “real” food, such as vegetables, fruits, healthy fats (flax seeds or olive oil), and protein (fish and chicken).

The holidays are a lot to deal with, but if you take the time to relax and take care of yourself, then they can be the enjoyable event they were meant to be.