4 Unique Strategies for a Low Stress Holiday Season

modern christmas tree clipart

by Glynis Sherwood MEd


Holiday season can be a mixed blessing.  Though many people look forward to it with happy anticipation of a break from routine and labor, and an injection of socializing and pleasure, the holidays can also be the source of stress and pressure.  For starters, the fast pace of the season can undermine the goal of any holiday – specifically, rest, rejuvenation and pleasure.  Many people also feel added tension from spending extended time with family members whom they don’t get along with at best, or feel unsafe with at worst.


We are also living at a time when people experience unrelenting stress due to being ‘on’ all the time, both mentally and physically.  The omni-presence of technology has lead to demands on our time or compulsive use that, in the end, just compounds the problem.


Being on the go 24/7 creates a state of cumulative stress and constriction in the body and mind.  This can lead to a chain reaction where people ‘forget’ to eat properly, rest adequately, exercise regularly and to breathe deeply.  Neglecting these cornerstones of health over time causes or aggravates stress related problems.  Without a solid foundation of mental and physical health, many folks are left feeling anxious and/or out of touch with whom they really are, and what they truly need to be and feel alive.


However, you don’t have to be a prisoner of stress during the holidays.  By following these four simple rules, you can look forward to a Christmas that is enjoyable and restorative.


How to Not Become a Captive of Stress During Christmas
  1. Remember – the purpose of holidays is rest, rejuvenation, good company and enjoyment.  Keep those themes in mind as you make your plans, and spend your days.
  2. Reflect – by spending some time re-evaluating your life’s purpose.  Does the way you spent the past year line up with who you are – or want to be – as a person?  What do you want to carry forward or change as you head into the new year?
  3. Recommit – to knowing and caring for your self in a way that optimizes physical and mental health.  You will feel better, and provide a good example for others.
  4. Reintegrate – make decisions about how to approach the holidays, and beyond, in ways that express your deeper sense of what’s important to the big picture of your life and your core values. Commit to being even more true to yourself in the new year.


It can help to begin with end in mind. Visualize what you want the holidays to look like.  What would bring depth and meaning to this time, as well as a sense of lightness and fun?  Ask yourself if your vision feels like the right balance between socializing or entertaining and having recuperative down time for yourself and loved ones.  If not, make adjustments to your plans.


Make the basics a priority.  In other words, set up your holidays so you can get adequate sleep, healthy food and unstructured time, as well as building in regular restorative practices such as exercise, meditation or massage.


Avoid conflict with family members, especially if there is alcohol involved.  If difficult issues arise that need to be dealt with, arrange to discuss them at another time, away from family celebrations.


By committing to make and take time to care for your mental and physical well being, you can avoid the pitfalls of stress at Christmas, and welcome the new year with peace of mind.


Image:  ClipArtExtras.com

Need Help Dealing With Stress?   Visit my Stress & Anxiety Counselling Web Page  

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Glynis Sherwood – MEd, Canadian Certified Counsellor, Certified Couples and Addiction Counsellor is a Psychotherapist specializing in recovery from chronic Stress, Anxiety, Relationship challenges, Family Scapegoating, Grief and Addictive Behaviors.