The “12 Ways of Christmas”: Holiday Stress Reduction.
by Moshe Rozdzial, LPC
The holiday season is a time of great expectations. Often this leads to feeling pressure to
spend more money, overeat, use alcoholic beverages, postpone sleep, and to put on a holiday
“happy face”. There may also be challenges for those living alone or away from family. This may
lead to stress, overwhelm and depression. Some suggestions on how to handle holiday stress
in healthy ways are as follows:
1. Maintain healthy eating habits. Don’t let the holidays become a dietary nightmare.
Overindulgence may add to stress and guilt, and health risks. Pears make a good healthy
snack before parties, to curb the seasonal splurge.
2. Acknowledge emotions. Expecting to feel like a turtle dove or connected may not be possible
if you are isolated or pressured. Identify and express your feelings. Volunteer if you are home
alone for the holidays. Giving reduces isolation and helps you feel useful and productive, and
may give you a perspective on your own problems.
3. Home security. The holiday season often means lots of time out of the house; travel,
shopping, and long drives. Take time to roost at home like three French hens. Home and hearth
grounds us when we get overwhelmed.
4. Maintain healthy relationships. Holiday stress may put pressure on relationships. Notice the
calling card of anxiety in yourself and others and respond with understanding and compassion.
5. Maintain spending limits. Decide what you can afford and then stick to your budget. Avoid
financial anxiety that may haunt you into the new year. Five gold rings may not necessarily buy
you happiness if you have to refinance the mortgage.
6. Take time for yourself. Even a few minutes alone, in a quiet place can be relaxing. Avoid
walking on holiday egg-shells. Give yourself time to maintain some normal routine. Self-
soothing activities like a bubble bath or meditation may restore calm during a hectic season.
7. Maintain an exercise routine. Exercise is the best stress reducer. It releases brain
endorphins that enhance a sense of well being. It keeps you fit in the sedentary time of winter.
Try indoor swimming. It’s a good aerobic winter exercise when you are limited by the weather.
8. Just say NO. Avoid resentment and overwhelm. You don’t have to be the maid for everyone’s
wishes. Learn to be assertive and ask for what you need.
9. Get plenty of rest. There’s a time to dance and a time to sleep. Too little rest can increase
depression and anxiety. Avoid stressors, situations, food, and drink that keep you up at night.
Get the amount of sleep you really need.
10. Reality check. The age of technology is an age of leaping changes. Family traditions may
change as well. Find new family rituals and ways to connect with loved ones. Cell phones,
Internet, and video can keep you close, even if they’re far away.
11. Plan ahead. Make a schedule of do-able holiday tasks and complete one essential task per
day. These “victories” will keep your confidence up. Avoid perfectionism. Don’t neglect
necessary tasks like paying the bills. Frozen pipes will destroy your holiday if the gas bill hasn’t
12. Seek support or professional help. You don’t have to do it alone, especially if anxiety or
depression becomes a constant drummer.