The holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, celebration, and relaxation with your loved ones; however, for many, it is a time of elevated stress.

So why does this happen?! We are busy making plans, creating meals, traveling, buying gifts, decorating our homes, visiting loved ones, this list could go on and on! One thing we often forget to do, especially during the holidays, is to stop and breathe! Self-care is so important; particularly in times of increased stress and anxiety.

Managing your holiday stress level, is not as difficult as it seems. Breaking down your tasks, by day, event, importance, etc., is sometimes all it takes. For example, this list of tips is brought to you by The Department of Health & Human Services:

  • Make a “to do” list; the act of crossing off each task can be more cathartic than we realize!
  • Know your limits! Don’t over-commit or over-spend! The holidays are not a time to go broke expressing your love for someone else.
  • Get organized. Keep all of your appointments clearly marked on ONE calendar, update, and check for updates regularly!
  • Use down time to your advantage! Meal prep, cook and freeze meals for the future, write holiday cards, take care of gas, laundry, groceries, etc.
  • Simplify tasks. Combine errands/tasks as much as possible, choose meals that are easy to prepare, block out time for lengthy tasks.
  • Ask for help. If you are in charge of a meal or hosting a holiday gathering, consider delegating tasks or making it a potluck to take some of the stress off you!
  • Find “down” time. Bubble baths, exercising, yoga, movies, talking with friends, whatever allows you to relax and refresh, is crucial to re-energizing your body and mind!
  • Enjoy time with your loved ones. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season; take time out to spend with family and friends!

If you are traveling, the DHHS suggests that you:

  • Make travel plans early.
  • Allow plenty of travel time.
  • Anticipate traffic jams.

The DHHS also provides the following techniques to decrease your stress load while shopping for holiday gifts:

  • Shop early.
  • Be creative.
  • Wrap gifts as you buy them.
  • Write out holiday cards in advance.
  • Mail presents and/or cards early.

If you are grieving, the holidays can bring up many painful memories. They can also intensify your current stress levels as a result of emotional pain. Here are some things that can help:

  • Be honest with your feelings.
  • Make changes to traditions if necessary.
  • Help others.
  • Remember your loved one in a special way. This one’s a personal favorite!
  • Do your best to be positive, express gratitude, and experience joy and happiness. This is NOT a sign of disrespect to your loved one!
  • Recognize your stress signals, triggers, and warning signs, that you may need to take a break or talk to someone.

Pre-Holiday Self-Care

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Eat well.
  • Strive to be healthy.

Post-Holiday Self-Care

  • If you’re reading this, take a moment to participate in a short exercise.
  • Place both feet flat on the floor.
  • Sit up straight.
  • Release your shoulders from your ears.
  • Now unclench your jaw and remove your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
  • Take a deep breath in, hold it, and release.
  • We take in so much stress that we often don’t realize how much we actually hold onto in the least noticeable ways.
  • Take time to RELAX!!!

For further information, please visit the Department of Health & Human Services, USA, at