10 Tips For Coping With Holiday Stress

Ah, the holidays. They’re supposed to be a time for joy and togetherness, yet often become mired in stress and expansive to-do lists. I’m a big proponent of editing both stress and expansive to-do lists so I was thrilled to get some ideas for coping with holiday stress from Dr. Niamh Carroll of Tufts Medical Center. Below are Dr. Carroll’s thoughts and I’ve added parenthetical notes for other helpful resources!

We all know that the holiday season is extremely busy: sending cards, decorating the house, shopping for presents, cooking and cleaning, going to parties – the list goes on and on! During this season where you’re putting out so much attention and energy on others, it’s even more important to take care of yourself. Here are my 10 tips for coping with holiday stress:

1. Say no

It can be hard to say no but sometimes you just need to do it! Saying no is the first essential step to managing stress -- it will help you find much needed little pockets of time to take care of yourself. [For further inspiration: Edit Your Life Saying Yes To Saying No episode]

2. Take time for self care

And speaking of taking care of yourself, it’s really important to carve out time to focus on yourself – doing something daily that you enjoy, be it an hour at a yoga class, a half hour walk or run outside, or even an early night to bed. [For further inspiration: Edit Your Life Prioritizing “Me” Time episode]

3. Get out into nature

Being in nature helps you refocus, let go of stress, and appreciate your surroundings. I find that being in nature immediately reduces my anxiety about what might go wrong, and helps me remember that even if there’s a problem, all will be OK! There’s nothing like a walk in the fresh air to clear your head. Plus, being out in the sunlight helps reduce seasonal affective disorder.

4. Go tech free

I also try to go phone/computer free for a few hours each day, especially if I’m with friends and family. Eliminating tech distractions keeps me focused on what’s important. If it’s hard to resist the urge of a device right next to you, leave your phone in your bag or in a different room.

5. Prioritize sleep

It’s common to become run down (sometimes to the point of sickness) over the holidays. It’s really important to stick to a good sleep schedule. Many studies have shown that lack of sleep, or poor sleep quality, can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to viral infections such as the common cold. [For further inspiration: 7 steps to better sleep article]

6. Eat and drink mindfully

The holidays are typically a time of excess. Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables to balance out the sweets (fruits and veggies will also boost your vitamin C and zinc levels – both important for your immune system). Also, alcohol can also be detrimental to your sleep and also generally impact your well being depending on quantity consumed, so consider replacing that glass of wine with a seltzer!

7. Exercise

Exercise will help you shake off the stress and also sleep better! [For further inspiration: 9 tips for exercising in cold weather, Edit Your Life Solving Common Fitness Pitfalls + Our Favorite Wellness Apps episodes]

8. Strategize visitors

Hosting can be challenging; it’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to please everyone and having people in your space 24/7. Know your limits and make strategic decisions based on those limits as it relates to length of visit, activities (it’s key to have independent time as well as together time with visitors), and meals. Also, don’t let go of your self-care time when you have visitors; pre-book a Pilates or yoga class or schedule in a walk or run so you have a designated time to get out of the house on your own.

9. Get a flu shot

Consider getting a flu shot to help you stay well this season!

10. Seek professional help

If you’re feeling stressed out to the point where the stress is impairing your ability to function, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor.

Tufts Medical Center is a renowned not-for-profit academic medical center in downtown Boston. Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children’s hospital of Tufts Medical Center. Both are the principal teaching hospitals of Tufts University School of Medicine. Tufts MC and the Floating Hospital offer a full range of services including primary care, OBGYN services in all areas of women’s health and dedicated pediatric and adult emergency rooms.

Disclaimer: The content provided in this post is intended solely for the information of the reader. This information is not medical advice and should not replace a consultation with a medical professional.

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Tufts Medical Center. My passion for this topic, and my thoughts on running when it’s 7 degrees out, are -- of course -- my own.