7 Ways to Reduce Stress Over the Holidays

This week guest blogger Ryan Rivera is sharing some holiday stress-busting wisdom with us. Optimal health goes beyond food; stress can have a profound negative impact on your health! If the holidays push your stress buttons, read carefully and implement one or two of Ryan’s suggestions right away. We’d also love to hear your comments about how you manage excessive stress during the holiday season!

7 Ways to Reduce Stress Over the Holidays

Though the holidays should be a time that you spend enjoying yourself with the people you love, many people experience more stress during the holidays than during any other time of year.  There are many reasons for this, from the social pressure to be happy during the holidays, to financial worries, to making a good impression on your in-laws… The list goes on.

Don’t let the holidays reduce you to a stressed-out mess. Instead, use these 7 tips to help you reduce stress so that you can have the pleasant, relaxed holiday that you deserve.

  • Celebrate in Your Own Way – Don’t rely on the world around you to make your holiday what you want it to be. Help yourself create a little holiday magic of your own by doing things like making yourself some really good hot chocolate to counter the cold weather, putting up festive lights in your room or workspace, or listening to music that puts you in a good mood.
  • Learn to Cook/Bake – There’s probably some holiday food or treat that you can’t get enough of. Learning to cook or bake that special holiday food can help you to take your mind off of holidays stress, and allow you to use your stress energy productively. In addition, cooking/baking with family members can be a positive collaborative experience.
  • Get Plenty of Sleep – Try drinking decaffeinated tea, such as chamomile, peppermint or ginger, at night before you go to sleep to settle your mind and soothe your body. Stress is hard on the body and can tire you out, which can create more stress, so be sure and listen to your body when it tells you that it needs some time to re-energize.
  • Start a Private Project – Whether it’s finally reading that book you’ve been curious about, building a model ship, or learning to crochet, a private project gives you an excuse to get some quality you-time when you need it, as well as creating a holiday activity you enjoy that you are in control over and is not dependent on anyone else.
  • Make To-Do Lists (With Rewards) – Making a list of the things you need to do during the holidays, even if they are things you don’t want to do right at that moment, will keep you from forgetting important things and causing you more stress. If you can work out a reward system every time you check off something from the list, you will be even more likely to get everything you need to do done.
  • Prep Your Mp3 Player – Unless you don’t find that listening to the same irritating Christmas song 20+ times in a given day adds to your stress by driving you slowly insane, it may decrease your holiday stress to load your mp3 player up with songs that don’t continually remind you of what season it is, or at least that evoke the season in a more pleasant way.
  • Keep a Holiday Journal – Keeping a holiday journal will allow you to record fond memories that you will want to remember later as well as giving you a private space to work through anything that might be bothering you in your own mind, so that you don’t end up taking it out on others.

The holidays don’t have to be as stressful as you think. Taking care of yourself, being prepared, and concentrating on the positive experiences you have this season is the secret to having a happy and healthy holiday.

About the Author: Ryan Rivera struggled with intense anxiety and stress, and often that would boil over into the holidays. It wasn’t until he was able to learn how to calm anxiety that he found relief.

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Erin Harner

Erin Harner is an Integrative Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), author, and speaker based in Ithaca, NY. Erin melds functional medicine and culinary nutrition to help her clients uncover their unique diet and confidently cook healthy nourishing meals that meet the needs of their whole family. Learn about Erin's services and connect on Instagram.

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