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8 Ways to Reduce Holiday Season Stress

Having trouble feeling the holiday spirit? Use these simple tips to help make the next few months more enjoyable.


So many people look forward to the holiday season. The decorations are beautiful, there’s an abundance of tasty treats at home and at work, and even for a little while people seem to get in the spirit of the holiday season and are kinder to one another.

It’s a great time of year indeed, but not for all. For many, it’s a very stressful time. There are the visits from out of town guests who stay in our homes, all that cooking, buying presents and more. In fact, for many people, the holidays aren’t joyful at all. They’re downright stressful, anxiety provoking and dreadful.

If you’re one of those people who can’t get into the season and find the next month to be very stressful, there are some things you can do to make it more enjoyable.

1. Don’t procrastinate. You can reduce stress with a little bit of planning and getting an early start.  Do your holiday shopping early. Prepare your home and guest room way ahead of time. Figure out the menu of the big holiday dinner well ahead of time. If you wait until the last minute and find yourself pressed for time, you’re going to experience more stress.

2. Learn to say ‘no.’ If you have a hard time telling people ‘no,’ you’re going to find yourself overcommitted, tired, unable to do the things you really want to do and stressed out. It’s ok to say ‘no’ if you don’t want to do something or don’t have the time to do it. The key is to be polite about it. People will respect your ‘no’ if you explain it the right way. For example: “I sure wish I could help you out, but unfortunately I have a previous commitment and won’t be able to. Maybe next time.”

3. Get plenty of sleep. One of the best friends of stress is lack of sleep. Stress impacts us more when we’re without enough shuteye. The holidays are an exciting time, but people tend to neglect getting enough rest due to travel, staying up late with family, overeating and feeling overwhelmed.  Make sleep a priority during the holidays and you’ll enjoy the season more.

4. Make time for you. During the holidays, we have so many commitments to our family, friends, visitors, office parties and more, and people tend to forget about themselves.  Even as little as 20 to 30 minutes each day to do something you enjoy or to go for a walk by yourself will refresh you, relieve stress and help you enjoy the holidays.

5. Breathe. If you’re feeling overly anxious or stressed out from the holidays, take a few minutes to slow your breathing down.  Breathe in through your diaphragm (stomach area), hold for a few seconds, and slowly release through your mouth. Slowing down your breathing is one of the best and natural stress relievers.

6. Take a step back and appreciate the moment. We tend to get so caught up in the moment that it’s over before we know it.  Take time to step back and enjoy the time with your family, playing in the snow with your kids, and just be thankful for all you have.  You’ll naturally feel less stressed and more satisfied when you are thankful for everything around you.

7. Don’t set expectations. Some people place very high expectations on the holidays.  They picture everything playing out in a specific way, and find themselves disappointed and stressed out when things don’t go according to plan.  Lower your expectations and just let life happen. You’ll feel less stressed and have more fun if you just go with the flow.

8. Don’t worry about what other people think. Maybe you’re concerned that your house is too messy, or that your pumpkin pie doesn’t taste as good as it should. It’s okay to strive for perfection, but it becomes a problem and is a major cause of stress when you start letting other’s opinions of you get in the way. Hope that they like you, your food and your hospitality, but if you put in the effort and they don’t like it, don’t let it bring you down. It’s their problem.

If you start to feel stress or anxiety this holiday season, remember these tips and put them to work. They will make you feel better and who knows, you may even start to really look forward to the holiday season and have a great time.

Colin Christopher is a clinical hypnotherapist certified by the American Council of Hypnotist Examiners. He is author of “Success Through Manipulation: Subconscious Reactions That Will Make or Break You”. In addition to his professional practice, Colin is also a hypnosis stage performer and hypnosis trainer. To learn more, visit www.colinchristopher.com and connect with Colin on Facebook at www.facebook.com/colinchristopher and on Twitter @ColinOnTV.