Five Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

The holidays – although fun and exciting – can involve a great deal of stress. You might be traveling or having others visit you, planning and creating elaborate meals, or buying presents and putting together decorations.

Here are five strategies to manage and reduce that stress so you can relax and enjoy the holiday season.

1. Stay Present

Worry and anxiety, by definition, aren’t real. They are simply thoughts we have about the future about things that may or may not happen. By staying in the present moment, we are able to deal with reality as it exists. This reduces worry and anxiety and prevents us from feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities that “could” happen in the future.

2. Control the Controllables

While in the present, there will be things you can do something about and things you can’t. Recognizing what we can control and what we can’t allow us to spend our time, effort, and energy more efficiently and effectively.

3. Remember Your “Why”

Why are you doing what you’re doing? Why are you traveling, hosting family, cooking a big meal, and buying gifts for your kids? Continue to remind yourself about how the behaviors you’ve chosen align with values that matter (for example, family, connection, selflessness, kindness) to reduce the stress associated with these holiday activities.

4. Communicate Confidently, Clearly, and in a Controlled Manner

Whatever is going on will likely involve other people, and these people may or may not be people you talk to on a regular basis. When we find ourselves in a house full of people we may love very much but do not have a lot of experience navigating life with, misunderstandings and miscommunications are to be expected. In those situations, ensure you:

  • Take the time to fully understand the problem and why it matters to you.
  • Clearly communicate the situation as you see it and why the situation is important and matters to you.
  • Ask the other person if they agree and view the problem in the same way that you do.
  • Ask how you could work together to resolve the problem.
  • Point out the good outcome that all can expect once the problem is resolved.

5. Breathe

Breathe from the diaphragm and focus either solely on your breath and the breathing sensation, or on an image or thought that evokes a positive emotion. Breathing and thinking in this way helps us reset and regulate our thoughts, emotions, and body. When your thoughts are spiraling out of control, you’re experiencing powerful emotions that are difficult to handle, or are suffering from the physical symptoms of stress (muscle tension, headaches, etc.), stop and take a few deliberate breaths.

Holidays create amazing stories and lasting memories. Keep these five things in mind to make it more likely that those stories and memories generate smiles and laughter for you, and everyone you share them with, for years to come.


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