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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Martin-Himmons

Stress for the Holidays? No thank you!

Many people (myself included)! Love the holiday season because it’s an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun, however, we don’t enjoy the holiday stress.

The stress comes because of expectations and a little pressure. Expectations to attend social events, participate in gift shopping, and entertain guests can become too much for even the most festive of us all. As responsibilities or obligations increase, so does the stress and how hectic things become.

With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays.

All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season. Read on for 5 tips to help you manage your stress before your stress manages you.

Budget, Budget, Budget!

I like a lot of people find that shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and around the holidays spending can mean added pressure. Americans spend approximately a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. Spending during the holidays is unavoidable, but you can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.

A lot of the stress that we experience during the holidays is due to financial pressure and spending that may be out of the norm. Ideally, you would have budgeted for holiday spending long before the holidays roll around, but if you haven’t, have no fear, start now. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts and stick to it. Forbes has an article that discusses a variety of ways to reduce holiday financial stress.


According to the American Heart Association you should be active 150 hours a week, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood.

You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you’ll feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports or find time for aerobics. Everyday activities such as housecleaning can count as well; if you do them with at moderate intensity. Consider things such as getting off a stop earlier and walking if you use public transportation or parking farther away from your destination if you drive. Or if you’re like me, have a dance party in your living room!

Party Hardy or Maybe Take It Easy a Bit

article author and a Christmas tree decorated in ribbons
Me and a ribbon tree!

The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. For a lot of us, during the holidays, there are parties and gatherings, we’re constantly surrounded by people, food and drink. It’s a lot of fun because it’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days while we make new memories.

You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Let yourself get comfortable with saying “No” and remember although it may feel like it, you don’t have to go to everything that you’re invited to especially if your stress will be increased.

If you do a lot of hosting, one great way to decrease your stress levels is to delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish or you rope in your family and friends to take on certain errands for you.

Don’t Let Your Wellness Go Down the Drain

The holiday season is a time of indulgence, and if you’re anything like me, all of the cakes, cookies, foods and treats are everywhere and it can be very tempting to overindulge, but as the Mayo Clinic directs; it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. Having a free for all will just add to your stress.

It’s okay to enjoy yourself but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t overeat while you’re out. It’s also important to make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.

Can't We All Just Get Along?

Sometimes during the holidays, we have to spend time with family members or acquaintances who rub us the wrong way. And that’s okay, we can’t always get along with everyone even our own family. However, allowing someone else to get under your skin, most likely will increase your stress levels and maybe even ruin your holiday – which I’m sure you don’t want. If someone is poking at you, learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait.

The American Psychological Association suggests that if you have a problem with someone, try your best to set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays. And you don’t want that, because that would be a never ending circle of doom and defiantly will make your holidays not so merry or bright.

Bottom Line

The holidays are a magical time of the year, but it can be a really stressful time. It’s important to take the time and create a deliberate and realistic plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with all of that. It's important to make time for you!

How do you cope with holiday stress? Let me know in the comments section.


Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In

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