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5 Ways to Fight Stress During the Holidays

Updated on May 17, 2017

There's very few times more stressful than during the holiday season. Between the gifts, the decorating, the celebrations, not to mention the family members, it's easy to suffer from stress and anxiety. Stressing out is not fun at all, especially when everyone is supposed to be having a good time. Sometimes the easiest way to fight stress is to anticipate it and act before it becomes too much to handle.

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Despite what a lot of the popular seasonal songs will tell you, the holidays are not necessarily the most wonderful time of the year. Sometimes that's when family deaths or other tragedies will hurt the most. Seeing extended family might bring back some painful memories from past holidays or from childhood and you might be feeling resentment towards those who don't seem to have problems buying the right gifts or throwing big parties without the amount of stress you feel. You might not want to be around people and the last thing you want to do is act happy when you're not feeling happy at all.

It's all right.

It's better in the long run to do what's best for you. Which means that you don't have to pretend to be happy if you feel like crying, and it might be good to punch a heavy bag or scream in a pillow than to try to suppress frustration. If you don't feel like being around people then find some alone time. That way you won't have to worry about keeping up a facade around your relatives and friends, and there's less chance of taking it out on your loved ones, which just causes more stress and things to deal with. Acknowledging the fact that you might not be in a celebratory spirit, and that it's okay, is one of the best ways to help alleviate stress because once that is accomplished, you will not feel guilty about not being completely happy around the holidays.

Accept Imperfection

A lot of stress can come from trying to make things perfect, and then getting upset when things don't go as planned. It's best to accept beforehand that they will not be perfect. Expect changes in plans, fights to happen, and the oven to catch on fire. Being open to change and focusing on having a good time more than anything else will make the holidays go (or seem to go) much smoother than they have in the past, and it will save you a lot of stress in the long run.

Give Yourself Some Time To Relax

There are few times of the year more hectic than the holidays, and it's hard to find time to truly relax, but it's important to find a few minutes here and there to keep yourself from getting burnt out and to keep your spirits lifted. Do whatever makes you relax the most. You could listen to music, take a walk, read a book, and even meditate. As long as you can relax and clear your mind, a few minutes can go a long way.

Talk About It

Oftentimes, talking about it to a trusted friend and loved one will help you feel better if you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Even if they can't help you with the holiday preparations, they can give you emotional support, and sometimes just talking about something out loud can help you figure out what to do. Suppressing feelings will not do anything but make it hurt worse, and talking about it can keep you from having a meltdown later when the problems become too much to handle.

Protect Yourself and Know Your Limitations

It is very important to know your own limitations. Trying to go above and beyond them will only cause disappointment, fights, and half-decent results. It doesn't matter what your other relatives can do, or think they can do, and don't let criticisms or well-intentioned but poorly worded advice get you down. What is important is having a good time, and if you cannot do as much as the next person and still have a good time, then that's okay.

Don't anticipate negative impressions from guests, either. Doing so will only convince you that what you're doing is not enough, and you will never feel like you have done enough to make a good celebration. Needless to say, this means a lot of stress and anxiety, and your guests might like a smaller celebration just as much as a bigger one anyway.


The Mayo Clinic.

Psychology Today.

Coping with the Holidays.


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    • Kara Skinner profile image

      Kara Skinner 3 years ago from Maine

      Thanks for the comment, quildon. I hope this advice will help you. It's been helping me so far. :)

    • quildon profile image

      Angela Joseph 3 years ago from Florida

      Good advice here, Kara! Many of us, myself included, would love to take it easy over the holidays, but we knock ourselves out trying to please others and end up being stressed out. Voted up and sharing.