December 6, 2023

Stressed RN? Here Are 3 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress

This season has the potential to create a multitude of worries. Figuring out how to manage holiday stress will help the season be more enjoyable.

It’s that time of year for holiday Hallmark movies set in quaint towns, adult contemporary radio stations switching to 24/7 holiday music, and hot holiday beverages from peppermint mocha to gingerbread oatmilk chai lattes. The most wonderful time of year, right?

Well, not always. Holiday stress is real. There’s the big work rush before the holiday break and the mad dashes to the mall and airport. Let’s not forget about the numerous holiday parties enticing us to eat all the holiday cookies in sight. And c’mon, one look at your bank account will have you feeling the strain of white elephant gift exchanges, extra Starbucks runs, party hopping (need a new outfit, am I right) and playing hostess.

Why Are the Holidays So Notoriously Stressful?

Think back to when you were a child – for some of us that time was far less in the distance than others, but not to add to your stress. What do you think changed between then until adulthood to make November and December so notoriously stressful?

A new poll conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found the U.S adults are feeling joyous but overwhelmed this holiday season, nearly nine in 10 (89%) say concerns such as not having enough money, missing loved ones and anticipating family conflict cause them stress at this time of year. While stress appears to be common at this time of year, 43% said that the stress of the holidays interferes with their ability to enjoy them.

While stress and holidays seem to together, you can develop strategies to cope with holiday stress. As your schedule becomes inundated with preparations and celebrations, identifying ways to reduce and manage stress will help you feel more optimistic about the season.

3 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

1 | Hold Space for All Emotions

The holidays have a way of intensifying existing feelings of sadness, loss, and grief. While many of us the opportunity to celebrate the season with friends and family, there are some dealing with the loss of a loved one, family stress, a recent breakup, or not being able to go home for the holidays.

No matter which group you fall in to, it important to make space for all your emotions, allow yourself some grace and refrain from putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to feel happy. Leaning into self-care and acknowledging your emotions can be helpful; plus, others will benefit when you’re feeling less stress.

Set Boundaries in Advance

There’s no denying the holiday season can add an extra layer of stress; especially when it comes to navigating drama and complicated family dynamics. Family gatherings can dredge up all sorts of emotions, from sadness and anger to full-blown anxiety. Though you can’t control or predict exactly how your family is going to behave or act in every single instance, you likely know some of your potential triggers. It’s important to have a plan to address anxiety to be able to diffuse intense feelings and emotions accordingly.

  • Acknowledge your feelings.
  • Check-in with yourself regularly.
  • Pay attention to your body cues.
  • Increase your awareness of anxiety triggers.
  • Identify supportive family members and friends to lean on.
  • Set boundaries around which topics you’ll engage with and plan a few responses ahead of time before they come up.
  • Minimize expose to anxiety triggers by removing yourself from the situation and developing strategies to reduce your anxiety in tougher moments.
  • Excuse yourself when necessary.

Take Frequent Breaks

Navigating holiday parties, shopping, and travel on top of trying to maintain your regular schedule can most certainly leave you feeling overwhelmed. If the holiday season is causing your more stress than enjoyment, think about putting yourself first.

  • Let go of idea of “should” – I should go to the party; I should by this gift, etc.
  • Embrace the joy of missing out.
  • Politely decline any social gathering that satisfies an obligation.
  • Ask someone else to host the holiday dinner or party.
  • Do what feels good to you – even if that means not celebrating at all.

Prioritize Self-Care

The holidays have a well-earned reputation for being a time a giving – not only of giving gifts, but also our time and energy. How can we truly show up for others when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed? Since the holidays are all about giving, give yourself the gift of self-care whenever you start to feel stressed. When we practice self-care during the holidays, it can be surprising how quickly we can begin to experience the benefits.

  • Reflect on aspects of your life that give you joy.
  • Go for a meditative walk.
  • Talk time to listen to your favorite music or read a new book.
  • Spend time with a friend.
  • Get regular exercise.

2 | Maintain Positive Lifestyle Habits

Nourishing your body with nutrient dense food, keeping up with your daily workout regimen and holding space for self-care can be hard enough on any given day. During the holiday season, you are expected to keep up with those positive behaviors with packed work and social calendars and holiday treats really testing your ‘all foods fit in moderation’ philosophy. Allow yourself some grace and do the best you can maintaining your health and wellness goals.

Aim to get your body moving daily.

Try restorative movement such as yoga which encourages mental and physical relaxation, which helps reduce stress and anxiety. The poses taken during yoga may help release muscle knots, helping release emotions and tension. They also promote the release of endorphins, which can positively affect how you handle stress. Endorphins are chemicals produced by the brain that help diminish pain and trigger positive feelings.

Address times of emotional eating.

Sometimes eating serves as a self-coping mechanism to deal with life’s daily struggles. When tempted to eat the whole tray of gingerbread cookies at your office holiday party after a hard day, take a BEAT to check in with your hunger/fullness cues – Breathe. Emotional/Stressed? Angry? Tired? By taking a BEAT to see if you can identify if you are emotionally eating. If you are in fact emotional, then find other way to self-soothe that don’t deal with food.

Prioritize Sleep.

Getting quality shut eye is crucial to your overall health and wellness. In fact, sleep deprivation can affect heart health, immune function, cognitive function, and appetite regulation, gut health and obviously can cause general fatigue. If you really want to be the healthiest version of you, prioritizing sleep is a must. The benefits of proper rest include increased energy and improved mood. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep nightly.

Remember What’s Important

The holiday season is an excellent time to reconnect with not only family and friends, but also with yourself. The season is not about busting your monthly budget to buy the most elaborate holiday decorations, gourmet foods or expensive gifts. While you’re checking everyone off your list, remember the true meaning of the season and give your wallet a break. Here are some more ways to manage your finances during the holidays:

Make a Plan for Your Finances.

  • Set a realistic budget for yourself.
  • Don’t overextend yourself and make your financial problems worse.
  • Be open and honest with other about your limits on exchanging gifts or participating in social events.
  • Put together a list of gifts and search around for best pricing.
  • Be honest about what you can and cannot spend.
  • Consider alternative to the usual material gifts, like experiences (think: a wellness membership), plant, DIY goodies (homemade body scrub and bath bombs), or your time.

Seek Support

You are not alone. Talk about your worries and concerns with close friends or family. Getting things out in the open will help you process your feeling and work toward a solution.

How to get help right away.

If you (or a loved one) are in distress or struggling with thoughts of suicide, depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, or you just need someone to talk to, there is help available.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 988

  • The 24/7 free hotline has trained crisis counselor who provide confidential support to people in distress.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Helpline: Call 1.800.950.NAMI (6264) or text NAMI to 741741

  • The NAMI Helpline is a free service that provides referral, information, and support to those affected by mental illness.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Helpline: Call 1.800.662.HELP (4357)

  • The SAMHSA helpline provides 24/7 free and confidential referrals and information to individuals and their family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
Looking for more support in achieving lifestyle balance? The Collective Membership is a year-long program designed to help you in your personal transformation by providing a framework to help you achieve your health and wellness goals – clean eating weekly meal plans, streaming workout videos and wellness video classes + more for just $65/month (billed annually).
Our corporate wellness program provides your employees with personalized strategies to create lifelong healthy behaviors while building an organizational culture of health and wellness.
The goal of this program is to help you achieve lifestyle balance by providing you with a framework of daily functional nutrition, physical activity and self-care which includes:

Exclusive Member Articles
5-day Metabolic Meal Plan
Streaming Workout Videos
Guided Meditations 

Small Group Wellness Coaching
Live Wellness Education Webinars
Private Community Group
And more!


Scroll to Top