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  • Writer's picturelesleythompsonmft

5 Tips to Lower Stress Over the Holidays

Updated: Jan 23

It's that time of year again!! The holiday season is upon us!! And while it can be a wonderful time of year with giving, family, and festivities, it is also one of the most stressful times of year. So how can we lower the stress levels, so we can enjoy the positive aspects of the holidays? Here are 5 tips to help you lower your holiday stress.

concrete steps to lower stress over the holidays
How to lower stress over the holidays


There is nothing like a good sweat to help alleviate stress and get you into a more cheerful mood. When we exercise endorphins are released, which have been proven to reduce pain, alleviate stress, and create a more euphoric mood; all of which can be tremendously beneficial during the business of the holidays. Depending on the amount of time you have and your interests, you could take a walk, go for a run, take a bike ride, try hot yoga; or a lot of studios offer free trial classes, it might be time to try that kickboxing, spin or aerial class you have been eyeing.

Realistic Expectations

Often we want everything to be perfect, from the food, to the gifts, to the decorations, to everyone getting along. We want the holidays to be special, and we work very hard at trying to meet everyone’s need and expectation. But sometimes we need to just let go and be flexible. Each year our circumstances change, and our families transition and grow. Sometimes there’s been a loss or a new addition, and that can cause a change to the “norm” and to our tradition. It’s important to enjoy what you do have together, find new ways to connect, and be willing to create new traditions. Just breath and tell yourself, “be flexible.”


Before you start your holiday gift shopping and going to all of the holiday parties and dinners, sit down and look at your finances. Create a budget for what you can realistically spend and pay off without creating financial stress for yourself. It might mean saying no to some dinner invitations or getting a little creative on the gift front. But you will be able to enjoy your holidays a lot more if you don’t have the looming financial debt cloud hanging over you.

Treat Yourself

During the holidays we can be so focused on giving to everyone around us, we can often forget about our own needs and ourselves. It is important to remember yourself and take time to do something kind and encouraging to you. Take some time to see a movie, read a book, go for a walk, or get a massage. It can also be helpful to add a little daily routine of taking 15 min of quiet time, or meditate, or just sit with a cup of coffee or tea. Sometimes just allowing ourselves to be still for a few minutes is one of the kindest things we can do for our self.

Accept Differences

Sometimes it can be hard to believe you and your family member are from the same gene pool. We can often think so differently and have vastly different opinions and values. And sometimes it is just their personality that drives us up the wall. Whatever it is, when we spend time with family, we can feel very triggered and reactive. If you do get triggered, hit the pause button, count to 10 while taking 10 deep breaths. If you are still feeling triggered, it might be good to excuse yourself to the bathroom or if appropriate, take a short walk. The holidays usually are not the time to delve in deep. You are not going to change your family member over the holidays (or really ever). And engaging in hot topic conversations just causes more stress and conflict. Sometimes we just have to learn to accept our family members, accept the differences and then deliberately focus on the positive.


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