Manage that holiday stress

Tips to help navigate holiday stress.

A holiday advent calendar.
Photo: Torsten Dettlaff/Pexels.

Time is always at a premium, even more so during the holiday season. How do families navigate the season without feeling overwhelmed by schedules, demands and stress? The American Psychological Association (APA) says there are conscious steps one can take to prevent holiday stress and reduce worries this season.

  • Take time for yourself. Remember that you cannot pour from an empty cup.  Practice self-care and ensure your needs are met.  Prioritize sleep, nourishing meals, physical activity and managing your wellbeing.  Schedule some quiet time for yourself. This could be a quiet walk, journaling, taking a bath, reading a book or getting a massage. Be determined to do at least one positive and fun thing for yourself this season.
  • Volunteer. Help someone else. Find a charity in your community such as a food pantry or an adopt-a-family program. Volunteering helps to build community. Volunteer with your local 4-H program, animal shelter, food pantry or Michigan State University Extension.  Besides helping others, research shows that volunteering benefits individual wellbeing.
  • Have realistic expectations. Decide what is good for your immediate family and stick with it. Try to stick to your regular routine as closely as possible. Be mindful of your budget and limits. Fight perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Try to consider the inevitable change of plans as an opportunity to be flexible.  Enjoy your favorite traditions without overcommitting.
  • Remember what is important. Manage the holiday hype. It can be very easy to get wrapped up in all the advertisements to the point where you forget what the holiday season is about. Try to remember what makes a great celebration. It is the connections; it is not the decorations, expensive presents and fancy food.
  • Seek support. Be aware and acknowledge what your stressors really are, and the toll stress can take this time of year. Talk about struggles with your friends and family. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider seeing a professional to help you manage your holiday stress. The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is also available 24/7 by dialing 988. 

According to the APA, it is normal to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season. To learn more about managing stress, check out programs like Stress Less with Mindfulness with Michigan State University Extension.

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