Top 5 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

“Bah Humbug!” If this is the way you feel about the holidays, you’re not alone! Some may call it the “holiday blues.” Others just chalk it up to the added stress and worry that come with the holiday season.

Attempting to live up to all of the holiday traditions and expectations often leaves us reeling with stress instead of jumping for joy.

In fact, according to a study conducted by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people surveyed said their stress levels increase during the holiday season. Stressors include lack of time and money, pressures of gift-giving, and family gatherings.

Handling holiday stress is difficult for everyone. Here are some tips to make the holidays easier:

  • Worry less. It’s easy to compare our celebrations and traditions with those we see idealized in the media. But, don’t do it. No family is perfect. Your dinner table doesn’t have to be fancy. There doesn’t have to be an overflowing pile of presents under your tree. And, you don’t have to have the “perfect” ugly sweater for that party Friday night. You’ll be able to enjoy the holidays much more if you’re not worried about making sure everything is picture-perfect.
  • Establish limits. This applies on many levels. Holidays are a time of indulgence with both food and beverage. Know when enough is enough on that holiday candy and spiked eggnog. Too much will leave you feeling uncomfortable later. Stay within your budget when giving gifts. It’s easy to splurge for a loved one, but if it’s going to cause you hardship down the line, reconsider the present.
  • Remember self-care. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself. Factor in time to exercise, meditate, read a book or do anything else you enjoy. Getting a bit of “me” time may be just what you need to reset your holiday clock.
  • Say no. It’s common for families to gather to celebrate. Nearly all families are dysfunctional in some way. However, some families create toxic environments. If you feel pressured to gather with individuals who cause you trauma, decline the invitation. The holidays should be a happy time. If these celebrations hurt your mental and emotional well-being, don’t go.
  • Reach out for help. Ask family members to divide up tasks or to assist you as you tend to holiday duties. If you continue feeling overwhelmed, consider that your feelings may not just be a side effect of the holidays. You may be experiencing depression, anxiety, or other issues that should be addressed by a mental health professional. Additionally, even if you don’t normally experience mental health issues, but your struggles during the holiday season are holding you back from everyday life, consider seeking professional help to work through your feelings.

Southeast Kansas Mental Health Center is here to help you during the holidays and all other times of the year. Call us 24/7 at 1-866-973-2241 or visit us at If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. Nobody should go through trials alone. We are here to help.