5 Tips to Manage Stress During the Holidays (and Anytime)

5 Tips to Manage Stress During the Holidays (and Anytime)

Hey there, guess what? It's the holiday season. And that means on top of all of the things you normally do, it's time for shopping, cooking, lots of cleaning, decorating the house, spending extra money, and then being super nice to Aunt Ethel at your family gathering. It's the start of the holiday season. And for many people, that means family gatherings, lots of demands, social comparison, and super high stress.

That's why today I want to share five easy tips to help you enjoy your holiday season and reduce the amount of stress you feel.


Some People Feel Lonely During the Holidays

I'm recording this on a Saturday afternoon after what feels like a marathon day of decorating the house and getting ready for family to arrive tomorrow. I feel fortunate because I have a really close family and we enjoy spending the holidays together. Sometimes it's really easy to forget that for many people the holidays can exacerbate their loneliness and grief for loved ones they've lost.

And although the holidays are filled with joy, they can also be super stressful. It's really easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others and trying to be perfect. And that right there is a recipe for anxiety. I want to share five strategies that can help you to minimize stress and enjoy this wonderful time of the year. Let's get started with the first tip.

Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

One of the biggest ways to prevent holiday stress is to avoid getting sucked into social comparison. It's so easy to fall into the trap of comparing our holiday experiences to those we see on social media. We're bombarded with images of the perfect houses, the perfect decorations, the perfect turkeys, and the perfect families sitting around the perfect tables.

And if that wasn't bad enough, I feel like every time I open social media during the winter I see posts from someone who's jetting off to a beach vacation And I am so darn jealous. There's a really great phrase that puts it all into perspective. “Comparison is a thief of joy.” You’ll never guess who said that. Teddy Roosevelt! Yes, imagine that! Teddy Roosevelt many years ago said that. And it was long before social media.

Every time we compare ourselves to someone else, we end up feeling like we aren't good enough. And that's why comparing yourself is a recipe for disaster and for feeling bad. And every time we get on social media, chances are we're going to end up comparing ourselves to someone else. So try to be very mindful of that.

Remember, everyone's journey is unique. Instead of focusing on what others are doing, reflect on what brings you and your loved one’s joy. Embrace the beauty of your own traditions and create memories that resonate with your values. And try not to feel pressured to be perfect.

Set Boundaries and Limits

Another tip to reduce holiday stress is to set boundaries and limits.The holidays often come with invitations, numerous events, and lots of commitments that can be very overwhelming. It's okay to set boundaries and limits. Setting boundaries teaches people how to treat you and helps you to take care of yourself.

Whenever anyone asks me to do something or to commit to something that would require extra work, what I usually end up doing is taking a pause and saying, “Hmmm. Let me think about that and get back to you.” That way I'm not on the spot feeling pressure to overcommit and I can truly think through everything.

This is especially important for those of us who are people pleasers because when someone puts us on the spot and asks us something, of course, we want to be nice and please them and say that we will do whatever they ask but it's really important to think it through.

Try to prioritize the events that truly matter to you and your loved ones during the holiday season and learn to gracefully decline invitations and understand that saying no is a form of self-care and it allows you to fully enjoy the moments you choose to participate in.


A tip that helps many people minimize their holiday stress is to delegate. You don't have to carry the whole holiday load alone. You can delegate tasks and responsibilities to family members or friends, whether it's meal preparation, decorating, or planning activities involving others not only lightens your load, but it also creates a sense of shared joy and connection. I’ve got to say, I really struggle with this, and partly because I have more time than my adult children.

As a mom, I really want to take care of them. Sometimes it's hard for me to ask them to do something. But I've learned if I do everything myself, not only do I run myself ragged, but I end up robbing them of the joy of doing something to contribute.

I like to think of my family as a team. And part of being on a team is that everybody contributes to the end goal. If I take away those opportunities for my adult kids to do things to help out, they don't feel like they're part of the team. The best thing I can do is delegate to them and divide and conquer so that I don't end up doing everything myself. And you know what? Sometimes they make fabulous things that I wouldn't think of.

I must let go sometimes of what the meals might look like or what the sides might be. But in the end, we end up having a fabulous time and I love the creativity that they all bring to every family get-together. All of my adult kids are pretty good cooks so it's really fun to have them bring something as a side. And the ones that don't want to cook, sometimes they just buy something and that's okay too.

Take Time for Yourself

The next tip is all about focusing on yourself. If you want to manage stress during the holidays and honestly, anytime, learn to take time for yourself. Amidst the hustle and bustle, don't forget to prioritize self-care. Schedule moments of solitude to recharge, whether it's a quiet cup of tea, a walk outside, calling a friend, going to the gym, or simply taking a few deep breaths.

Giving yourself the gift of time and space can do wonders for your mental well-being. Sometimes when it's been a really tough day, I take a long shower or a bath and I crawl into bed early with a book. I've learned what helps me to relax and recharge and instead of doing one more thing on my to-do list, I know if I take the time to do some self-care, I'll end up feeling a lot better, and the next day I'll be recharged.

Move Your Body

And finally, the last tip is to move your body. That's right. If you want to reduce stress during the holidays, make time to move your body by doing some type of physical activity. We all know that physical activity is healthy for us and it's a powerful stress reliever. Incorporate movement into your holiday routine, whether it's taking a walk, riding a bike, yoga, or a quick workout.

Exercise releases endorphins help me to elevate your mood and energy levels during this busy season. For me, I need to go to the gym and swim laps. I listen to music while I swim and it's my favorite way to start the day.

When my kids were little and my time to workout was pretty much non-existent, I would blast a song on the radio in the kitchen and they would dance with me. It was super silly and oh my gosh, we had so much fun. It felt so good.

Some people don't like to work out or for health reasons they can't do anything really physical. I herniated a disc last year and had surgery and I couldn't work out at all. I found just doing light stretching and walking the dog helped me feel so much better.

And there you have it. Those are five simple ways to manage and even prevent stress during the holidays. Remember, it's not about achieving perfection, but instead finding balance and joy in the moments that matter most to you. I hope you can focus on at least one of these ways to make your holiday season better.

If you found this episode helpful, please share it with someone who might need these strategies too. Until next time, take good care of yourself and those around you. I wish you a happy holiday season.

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