10 Holiday Stress Coping Tips to Keep Your Joy

While stress can come up at any time, it’s especially common during the holiday season. Whether you’re anxious about finding gifts for everybody on your list, hosting a holiday party, trying to keep the magic alive for children, or just generally swamped by expectations, you aren’t alone! Finding healthy ways to cope with anxious feelings will help you avoid things like burnout or losing your temper.

Coping with stress the right way often means taking some time to yourself, even if it’s just a few moments to center your thoughts and calm your breathing. It can be difficult to squeeze “me time” into your day, especially during this time of the year. Still, prioritizing self-care is important, even if you have to schedule it. Consider the following list of ideas to combat stress and anxiety during the holiday season and start the new year with a positive outlook.

  1. Stay Active Even if it’s just a five-minute walk around the block, or a quick lap around the office, taking a walk can clear your head. Staying active can help calm your nervous system, especially if you can get outside for some sunshine and fresh air. Bring some holiday spirit to your workout with activities like ice skating or participating in a festive 5K in your community!
  2. Healthy Habits Practicing healthy habits like getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, and eating healthy foods (to balance out those holiday treats) can help your body keep up the energy you need this season. Aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night and consider cutting back on screen time or using a sound machine to help you get more rest.
  3. Don’t Compare Yourself Social media can create a lot of unnecessary expectations and pressure on you and your family, especially during the holiday season. Try to focus on embracing your own traditions and avoid comparing yourself to anybody else you see online. And remember, what you see is not the full story, just the most picture-worthy moments in a friend’s life.
  4. Consider Homemade Gifts: One of the most stressful parts of the season comes from gift-giving, shopping for gifts, and paying for gifts. Consider making homemade presents to lessen the burden of going shopping for everybody on your list. You can find classes at local studios to learn how to make unique and personalized gifts. Or a festive baked treat is always a favorite!
  5. Embrace the Joy Whether it’s playing holiday music or reminiscing about your favorite ornaments, be intentional about celebrating the season in small ways. It’s easy to get distracted by all the tasks involved with the holidays, but finding everyday opportunities to celebrate can make lasting memories.
  6. Schedule Downtime Leaving open time on your calendar is another great way to find some extra joy this season. Signing up for too many things or scheduling too many activities can leave the whole family feeling exhausted. Be selective about the events you attend and try to focus on quality time together, like planning a relaxing movie night to watch one of your holiday favorites!
  7. Yoga and Meditation Practicing mindfulness activities like yoga and meditation are popular methods for relieving stress. They help center your thoughts through deep breathing and focus, and you don’t need a lot of time to experience results. Exercises like this give you a healthy place to channel any anxiety during the holiday rush.
  8. Ask for Help While it isn’t easy for many people to do, asking for help is a great way to relieve some of the stress of the holiday season. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to your partner, your parents, or friends to give you a hand with some of the responsibilities on your to-do list. Activities like wrapping presents can be fun with some extra help, just turn up the holiday music!
  9. Journaling Writing in a journal has long been a recommendation for relieving stress. Getting your worries out and onto paper can help you reduce anxiety and organize your thoughts. Taking just a few minutes a day before bedtime to write can make you feel much calmer. It’s also a great way to remember joyful holiday moments!
  10. Give Back Serving in your community gives you a chance to make a difference and connect with the true meaning of the holidays. Whether you donate a gift or volunteer with a nonprofit, you’ll uplift others and experience a powerful reminder of the true joy of the season.
While it’s completely normal to feel some extra anxiety around the holidays, only you can know when you are reaching the end of your capacity. If the stress of the season is affecting your mental health, you need to get support. Reach out to a family member you trust, a close friend, or a mental health professional to see if they can help you find healthy coping techniques. Take a step back and remember that family is the most important thing during the holidays. Try not to get bogged down by all the expectations of the season, and instead, take joy in the quiet moments with loved ones.

Kelsey Caldwell is a realtor and freelance writer from Charlotte, NC. She and her husband are parents to two amazing kids, a golden-doodle, and a bearded dragon.