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How To Handle Holiday Stress

I’m Kayli Anderson, dietitian and natural foods chef. PBM is your headquarters for empowering, woman-centered plant-based nutrition and lifestyle guidance. 

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It’s early November which means we are approaching a time of year when holiday stress is at its peak. This ramp up in stress makes us more susceptible to emotional depletion. Are you feeling the holiday anxiety? Let’s talk about some ways you can handle holiday stress, feel balanced, and enjoy this season. These strategies will help you feel replenished instead of depleted – especially when life gets crazy.

how to handle holiday stress

5 Ways To Handle Holiday Stress

Connect with others

This piece of advice might sound counterintuitive for a time of year that is typically maxed out on social time. When I say “others”, I don’t mean acquaintances or challenging relatives. I mean take time to connect with people who make you feel fully seen and supported. That sense of true connection will help build your resilience, and that sense of resilience will come in handy when life feels challenging.


Get involved in activities you enjoy (bonus points if they draw on creativity)

This one might also sound counterintuitive given that your schedule is likely very busy this time of year! I remember a few years ago during this time of year, I signed up for a watercolor class. It was nice to have that time set aside for myself to do something I enjoyed and to experience a shift away from the day-to-day. It can feel very rejuvenating and empowering to prioritize yourself in that way. Find something that is a manageable time commitment for you and don’t wait until the new year to prioritize yourself. 


Find healthy ways to relax during the holiday season

We often claim that we are so busy and we don’t have time to slow down or relax. Yet, the average American spends ~3 hours a day on their phone and almost 4 hours day watching TV. Clearly we are unconsciously searching for ways to unplug and relax – we’re just not being very intentional about it. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with turning to our phones or TV for a needed brain break, those types of activities have a tipping point at which they add to our stress instead of reduce it.

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So, what are other ways you can intentionally integrate moments of relaxation into your day or week? A walk, a bath, baking, quality time with a friend, yoga, or a cup of tea and a book. These simple activities can go a long way towards helping manage your emotional wellness.


Take up journaling

Journaling about stressful situations as well as what you are grateful for are powerful ways to reduce stress and foster a positive outlook. This can be really simple – as simple as making a bulleted list of what’s on your mind before bed, or starting your day with a list of 3 things you feel grateful for. 


Shift your perspective on holiday stress

I believe that we create our own reality, so our perspective on things that happen in our lives has so much power to shape our outlook. If you are oriented toward searching for what’s wrong, or what’s not perfect, or the lack, then those are the aspects of your life that will pop out at you first, while all the good fades into the background.

If you orient yourself toward what is going well, what you have to be grateful for, the opportunities to learn and grow, then you will see your life as abundant. This takes practice at first if it’s not currently your habit, but it will eventually become automatic. Choosing a positive perspective does NOT mean that you reject sad or difficult emotions and pretend like everything is great all the time. It means that even in difficult moments, you can choose to focus on the silver linings: the lessons you’re learning, on your own resilience and strength, on the support network you have that helps you enduring difficult things. 

Related:  How To Be Yourself in Social Situations

Your emotional wellness is so worth your effort and energy, especially during busy times. Learning how to handle holiday stress will help you find more enjoyment and relaxation during a time of year that is supposed to be full of joy.

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