Home  |   Subscribe  |   Resources  |   Reprints  |   Writers' Guidelines


Avoid Holiday Stress: Set Realistic Expectations, Set Aside Differences

For many, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, unwanted stress and depression can derail holiday cheer when trying to juggle all of the parties, family gatherings, shopping, baking, cooking, and more.

“The holiday season should be a time of joy and celebrations with family, friends and loved ones,” says Amit Sood, MD, a Mayo Clinic physician and stress management expert. “But sometimes we lose sight of that and become overwhelmed.”

Sood gives the following practical tips to offer to clients to help minimize stress that can accompany the holidays:

Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well.

Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances to enjoy the holiday cheer.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.

Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.

Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you is facing adversity or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship.

— Source: Mayo Clinic