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Tips for feeling less stress during the holiday season

Even if you’re looking forward to the holiday season, stress and anxiety may also still be part of your celebrations. Balancing holiday celebrations with good mental health takes some planning, but it’s worth the effort.

woman playing with a puppyHere are some ways you can cope with stress and anxiety during the holidays.

Be in the moment

Worrying about things you cannot control or events that could happen in the future stop you from enjoying the present moment. Instead, try practicing mindfulness and meditation. When you find yourself worrying, work on deep breathing and gentle stretches to support relaxation. For extra help, find a mobile app that can help you with guided meditation.

Say no when necessary

Holiday to-do lists and activities can grow and grow. If you find yourself overwhelmed, it might be time to decide what truly makes you happy during the holiday season. Do you love holiday baking? Or are you satisfied with store bought cookies? By saying no to events and traditions that add extra stress, you can keep your celebrations focused on making positive memories.

Take a breather

Taking a break is OK. Sometimes a few moments alone can give you a renewed perspective. Even if you love getting together with friends and family, you might find yourself tired by the activity of the holiday season. Give yourself time to recharge your internal battery so you can enjoy yourself again.

Get outdoors

According to the University of Utah, getting outside can improve your mental health. Whether you choose to exercise or simply sit in the sunshine, spending time in nature and breathing in fresh air for at least 120 minutes a week – about 15-20 minutes per day – can help you lower your body’s stress levels. If you decide to go for a winter walk, be mindful of the weather and exercise safely.

Stay in therapy

If you’re experiencing more stress than normal, don’t skip a therapy appointment to free up time for holiday activities. Getting care from your mental health provider can help you navigate difficult holiday emotions and maintaining self-care routines, so you can better handle emotions or issues that make your holiday celebrations less fun.

Enjoy the gift of a budget

Money problems can add more stress to holiday fun. First, try to avoid overspending. Decide how much you can spend and stick to that amount. Second, try new budget-friendly ideas like drawing names for gifts instead of buying a present for everyone in your family. Spend time together making cookies or watching a movie and create memories that don’t cost as much.

Talk with your doctor

It’s normal to feel stress around the holidays. But if you feel like you need more mental health support, it could be time to talk to a doctor. Log in to your Blue Cross of Idaho account to search for a provider near you.


Written by: Melissa Carpenter, a wellbeing coach at Blue Cross of Idaho. Melissa has a degree in exercise science and is nationally certified in both personal training (NSCA-CPT) and wellness coaching (ACE). She has nearly 20 years of experience in the health promotion industry, focusing on wellbeing coaching.

Publish date: December 13, 2023