Stress Management Tips for the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Cuddling up under a warm blanket with your hot cocoa by the fireplace, children in matching Christmas pajamas playing nicely with toys by the decorated tree, exchanging the perfect gifts within our budget for each family member wrapped in festive paper, having time coordinated to visit with all of our loved ones, eating just enough pecan pie to not have to loosen your belt loop.


Is that not the beginning of an unrealistic vision of the holidays?

According to the American Psychological Association, the holiday season can be a time when many people report they have their highest stress. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, fatigue, and irritability can come with the rat race that can become the holiday season. Many of us have multiple holiday events, family, work, church and civic groups, where presents are exchanged and meals are prepared often located miles and miles apart. Creating realistic expectations of your holiday time is the first step to actually enjoying the most wonderful time of the year.


Here are some ideas to help you get your holiday season going on the right track.


  • Set realistic expectations for the season.

It might be physically impossible for you to make it to every holiday celebration. Look at your calendar in advance and plan out your time so that you feel that you can adequately cover all the ground in the best way possible. Think about those who you have not seen as frequently around the holidays. Can you share your time with all groups? Also, if your meal looks a little more like Stouffer’s than Pioneer Woman, understand that everyone will be fed just the same. You might not be able to find the perfect present for everyone, but hopefully you can show everyone that you care.


  • Pay attention to your health and well-being.

With all the holiday meals can come delightful options in food choices. If you are making the rounds to all of the parties and events, try to have a smaller portion size of your “must-have” treat. Can you schedule in some physical activity? Excess sugar in our diet can leave us feeling drained and bloated. In the long run, it is better to judge what you have eaten “meal by meal,” more than what you have eaten “that week.” Give yourself the gift of good health one step at a time.


  • Practice gratitude in all situations.

Instead of focusing on what is not happening, try to shift your focus to what is happening that is going well. What have you accomplished on your to-do list? Who have you been able to visit? What happiness you can find in your current situation? What can you do to show others you are thankful for them? Gratitude starts with your heart and truly appreciating life’s simple pleasures and the people around you. If something is upsetting you, try to let go of what you cannot change and move on. Find joy and thankfulness wherever you can and cling to it when your stress wheel is spinning.


Eight out of 10 Americans report being afflicted by stress on a daily basis. We certainly cannot stop our life and the difficult situations that come with it, but we can manage how we cope. Ask your support system for help and create strategies that work for you.



Gallup. (2017). Well-being in America Survey. Retrieved from:


Marcos, A. (2017). The Most Stressful Time of the Year? Retrieved from:

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