December 11, 2023

Feeling stressed? 5 ways to manage your stress during the holiday season

3 min read

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It’s no secret that dealing with stress during the holiday season can be overwhelming. When you’re wrapping up finals, making travel plans and trying to keep your life balanced and organized, it’s easy to find your stress levels rising.

You aren’t alone. In fact, nearly half of all Americans report feeling more stressed during December. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to minimize tension and help yourself stay calm, cool and collected this holiday season. Here’s what you need to know. 

  1. Prioritize

    One of the first ways you can minimize your personal stress levels is to prioritize the tasks you need to complete and balance those with the tasks you want to complete. Whether you choose to hand-write your “to do” list or you decide to use a time-saving app, make sure you’re careful to include everything you need to accomplish. Seeing a visual outline of your tasks enables you to start prioritizing what needs to get done first and being able to cross those items off your list means you’ll have less to worry about as the holidays approach. 

  2. Manage your expectations

    You don’t have to accomplish everything. One of the most difficult aspects of dealing with stress is accepting that you’re only human and can’t possibly complete everything you want — or need — to do. Remember to set realistic expectations. Chances are that you can’t attend every holiday party you’re invited to, but you can attend the one that’s most important to you. You might not be able to bake cookies or buy gifts for each person in your life, but you can do this for those who are closest to you.  

  3. Take time for yourself

    While it may seem counterproductive to slow down and spend time relaxing, the reality is that part of managing stress means scheduling quiet moments for yourself. If you’re feeling pressed for time, consider blocking off a few hours in your calendar so you can have some “me” time. This could be time you use reading a book, watching a movie or just relaxing with friends. One of the best ways to reduce stress is simply to slow down and focus on completing activities that you love and that help you feel relaxed, comfortable and good about yourself. 

  4. Set boundaries

    If you’re feeling stressed because of external pressures or relationships, now is a great time to start setting boundaries. Putting boundaries in place doesn’t mean that you’re being unfriendly or impolite. Instead, it means you’re prioritizing your mental — and in some cases, financial — health. Before you say “yes” to a party, project, activity or gift, make sure you consider whether this is something that you want to participate in and that will be beneficial to you. If it’s not, don’t be afraid to say “no.” The holidays are a busy season for everyone, so only take on tasks that you feel will benefit your life. 

  5. Give yourself grace

    Most importantly, be sure to extend grace to yourself. It’s easy to be hard on ourselves, but your mental health is important, especially during the holiday season. If you make a mistake, become burdened or feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that it’s okay to feel frustrated or anxious. While there’s nothing wrong with feeling these things, once you identify the emotions, take time to get centered once more.

    For more information on reducing your stress and finding help for your mental health, visit our blog post on mental health: You are not alone.


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