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How To Handle Holiday Stress: 5 Proven Ways To Stay Calm and Centered Because You Deserve To Enjoy The Season

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 that time of year when holiday stress is at its peak. Are you feeling the holiday anxiety? According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 90% of people report higher stress during the holiday season. Between spending, family dynamics, and more social commitments, this magical time of year can take a toll on physical and mental health. Let’s talk about some ways you can handle holiday stress, feel balanced, and enjoy this season – you deserve it! These proven 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. Resilience is a powerful tool 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. 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 it’s okay to occasionally use phones or TV for a brain break, those types of activities have a tipping point. They can easily start to add to our stress instead of reduce it.

Related:  5 Mindfulness Practices For Women

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 is a powerful way to reduce stress and foster a positive outlook. You can, of course, journal about stressors. You can also journal about what you’re grateful for in life. Keep it simple: make a bulleted list of what’s on your mind before bed. If you go the gratitude route, start your day with a list of 3 things you feel grateful for. 


Shift your perspective on holiday stress

We have the power to shape our own reality through our perspective. When you constantly search situations for imperfections, then the imperfections are what you’ll see. Alternatively, if you look for what’s going well, then the good parts will stand out. By focusing on the good, you start to see your life as more abundant.

If it isn’t natural for you to see the glass half full, don’t worry. With practice, it will eventually become automatic. Choosing a positive perspective does NOT mean that you ignore what’s not working. It simply means that even in difficult moments, you choose to find the good: lessons learned or people in your life who support you.

Your emotional wellness is so worth your effort and energy, especially during busy times. These 5 strategies will help you find more enjoyment and relaxation during the holidays.


BTW, you might also like…

Easy strategies for how to be yourself in social situations, my best tips for hitting the reset button when you feel triggered (hello, family gatherings!), and my all-time favorite holiday potluck dish: Pomegranate Guacamole.

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