Beating Holiday Stress


The holiday season brings joy to many Americans, but it may also lead to heightened stress. During this busy time of year you may be adding more obligations to your already full schedule or feel pressured to spend more than your bank account allows. Effectively managing holiday stress can help you enjoy the season.

Tips for beating stress around the holidays

For many, holiday stress is triggered by external factors, such as:

  • Extra events or activities for work or family
  • Additional requests for donations
  • Gift expectations from family members
  • Feeling obligated to recognize teachers, coworkers or service providers with a gift

To manage these feelings, it is important to set expectations — for yourself and others. Consider these tips:

  • Time: Carve out a few minutes to evaluate all requests for your time. Talk with family members to identify the most important activities and put those on the calendar. Then pass on the rest.
  • Donations: Set aside an amount of money you wish to donate during the season. As a family, choose those organizations that are most meaningful and divide the funds among them.
  • Gifts: Talk with children about the greater holiday meaning to help them understand they likely won’t get all of the gifts on their list. For other family members, discuss the option of doing no gifts or picking names to minimize gift giving. As with donations, set aside a specific amount you’re willing to spend on non-family members and stick to it.

Healthy holiday habits

The holiday season is relatively short, so keep your longer-term goals in sight to help you weather feelings of needing to do or spend more. Being mindful of why you’re choosing how to spend your time or money will help you feel better about saying no. Hopefully, you’ll then be able to say yes to things that help you maintain health and happiness, such as:

  • Carving out activity time every day
  • Getting 7 or more hours of sleep each night
  • Eating healthy meals each day
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Rejuvenation and relaxation activities like yoga or meditation

By keeping these healthy habits throughout the holiday season, you won’t have the stress of “starting over” come January.

If the stress of the holidays has you feeling overwhelmed, consider speaking with a UCLA Health physician. Find a primary care physician near you or call 310-825-2631 to schedule an appointment.