12 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Parties, gift-giving and wrapping up the end of the year can put even the most easy-going person in a holiday tizzy.

Parties, gift-giving and wrapping up the end of the year can put even the most easy-going person in a holiday tizzy. Avoiding stress can be like avoiding hearing “Jingle Bells”—nearly impossible. Here are 12 ways to make sure holiday anxiety doesn’t make you say, “Bah Humbug” this season.

While this seems like common sense, taking a few moments to take some deep breaths and empty your mind can really help you refocus when it seems like the world is a disco ball on hyper drive. As little as 10 minutes of quiet reflection, deep breathing or slow stretching can reduce stress and snap your brain out of a manic state.

Again, common sense, but this is particularly useful during the holiday season. Proper hydration can help you avoid over eating, drinking too much, and a bunch of the other usual holiday pitfalls. Also, you can avoid the stress of dealing with bad skin in the family photos or at the big party, as drinking enough water helps your skin deal with the elements better.

Not only will walking Sparky get you out of the house and get him some exercise, spending time with a pet is a well-known blood pressure reliever. Plus, how can you be stressed when that goofy face in reindeer ears asks you to play?

One of the best lessons to be learned from Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) is that Christmas is about joy and cheer, not the stress of all that goes into it. Take some time to watch Buddy and friends, and laugh away that extra anxiety of the season. Don’t forget the maple syrup!

You don’t have to be Picasso to get the benefits of creating art. Whether you’re a musician, sculptor, painter, or any other type of creative spirit, dedicating some time to your craft-of-choice can make a difference in your Christmas spirit.

There are some foods that naturally reduce anxiety. Try adding a few of these to your holiday recipes for some baked-in relief: avocado, salmon, and other fish high in Omega 3’s, and tea. Hmmm, sushi, anyone?

No matter how busy the season gets, there are always more invitations and requests for your assistance than can be humanly handled. The more comfortable you are with saying “No” to extra events and tasks, the less likely you are to be overwhelmed by the season. A dozen ugly sweater parties is too much for anyone.

Staying a healthy weight is tough enough 11 months out of the year, but the holidays are brutal on everyone’s waistline. Ditching your regular exercise routine during the holiday season may seem indulgent, but is the added guilt (and pounds) worth it? Taking care of yourself year round is the best gift you can give yourself!

While you’re out and about picking up gifts for everyone on the “Nice” list, don’t forget to include yourself! Whether you treat yourself to a massage at the mall spa or grab something you’ve been wanting but didn’t put on your wish list, Christmas is a great time to take advantage of deals and extended hours.

No one can do it all on their own — even Martha Stewart has assistants. Whether it’s hosting a get together (have a potluck!) or getting to all of the kids’ events (carpool, anyone?) asking to share the load is not a sign of weakness. Also, if you’re feeling more Grinch than Cindy Lou Who this year, it’s perfectly reasonable to ask for some professional help to deal with the Christmas blues.

While Turkey Day is when most of us reflect on what we are thankful for, taking a moment during the holidays to be appreciative for what you’ve got. Taking stock of what’s good in life shouldn’t happen once a year, and the holidays are a great time to practice being grateful.

Not everyone is going to love their gift or get along at the office holiday party. This wacky roller coaster we call life is not perfect, especially during the holidays. Accepting that your house may not look like a Pottery Barn catalog (and you’re not necessarily J. Crew’s next model) will dramatically lighten the amount of pressure you put on yourself every holiday season.