Reducing Stress During the Holiday Season

November 27, 2019

For many of us, the holidays are an exciting, happy time, as we plan parties, get ready for family get-togethers, and exchange gifts with those we love. But the season can also bring about added stress as we try to balance our work and “everyday” lives with the added demands of shopping, entertaining and attending special events. Or we may have suffered a recent loss of a loved one, putting a damper on our holiday spirit. Or perhaps, the holidays trigger feelings of loneliness. Here are some tips to help lower your stress during this special time of year.

Acknowledge your feelings

If you’ve recently lost a loved one, recognize that feelings of sadness and grief are normal and appropriate. Don’t force yourself to be happy simply because you think it’s expected. If someone asks how you’re doing, be honest. You obviously don’t want to dampen the spirits of others, but by saying something like “I love the holidays, but this one’s going to be hard without Mom around” will let people know you understand their excitement and why you may not be sharing those feelings this year.

Make – and stick to – a budget

Many people take on added stress by doing – and spending – more than they can afford. Set an amount you feel comfortable with and stick to it. If you run out of money and still have people on your gift list, consider handmade gifts or a gift of time – three hours of babysitting or caring for a pet. If you have a large family with whom you gather, consider downsizing gift giving by having each family member pick a name of a single family member to give a gift to.

Learn to say “no”

For many, the holidays become stressful because they feel like they simply have too much to do. Attending children’s holiday recitals, cleaning and cooking for out-of-town guests, going to once-a-year special events and shopping, while enjoyable on their own, can quickly feel burdensome when they all come at once. Learn to say “no” to those things that aren’t essential to making it a happy holiday.

 Reach out to someone

If you’re feeling isolated and lonely, seek out friends and family. If they aren’t available, find out what community, religious or other social events are happening where you live. Connecting with others is one of the best ways to combat depression and loneliness, which can increase your stress.


Volunteering is an excellent way to meet new people and lift your spirits. Opportunities are plentiful around the holidays as many organizations work to make the season bright for the less fortunate. Volunteering for a cause you believe in not only introduces you to new people, it provides people with a sense of purpose. If you’re not sure how to start, visit and look for opportunities in your area.

Pamper yourself

Use the holidays as an excuse to do something you’ve always wanted to do, like a “spa day” or seeing a new destination. Being in a new place can provide one with a new outlook on life. Additionally, don’t abandon your wellness routines, such as exercising, eating well and getting a good night’s sleep. Maintaining your healthy habits will help you deal with stress.

If you’re dealing with stress-related issues, please make sure to visit our Employee Assistance Program website or call 1-800-854-1446 (multilingual operators). This hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“This holiday season will be my first without my sweet daddy!  I don’t remember the gifts that were under the tree, but I’ll always remember the love that was in his heart.  The best gift you could ever give others and yourself is love.”  – Shelly Ryan, Chief of Human Resources