6 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Ahh, the holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Well, it can be, but then again sometimes it can be pretty darn stressful. Between the endless gatherings and parties, mile-long shopping list, and the expectation to do it all and see it all, it can be quite overwhelming- especially for those of us who deal with anxiety. But here’s the thing, it totally doesn’t have to be that way.

The holiday season should be a time when you enjoy being in the company of family and friends, and a time where you reflect on your love and blessings. So let’s jump right in with my 6 tips on combating the holiday blues, and how to reduce stress during the holidays.

6 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

  1. Plan Ahead- Since the holidays are usually pretty busy, one way to instantly reduce stress with the unknowns, is to map out all the planned events on a calendar. Whether it’s using a calendar on your phone, or printing out one to stick on your desk or fridge, it’s really important to write everything down that you’ll be doing over the next few weeks. This will help you stay prepared, plus you’ll be able map out some “relax days” in between.
  2. Keep It Simple- It can be super easy to feel like you have to fix a four-course meal when everyone is coming over to your house, or to want to try out that fancy new cake method you saw on Pinterest to take to a party, but unless you have the time (or desire), don’t guilt-trip yourself into feeling like you HAVE to do something. Take it from someone who has made the mistake of overextending herself one too many times, and just keep it simple. The things you do should bring you joy, bottom line. If making a cake makes you happy, go for it. If it makes you want to pull out your hair, then don’t do it. People will understand, and you’ll feel much better if you only partake in events and projects that you actually want to do.
  3. Maintain Healthy Habits- Although overindulging in sweets, lounging on the couch 24/7, and staying up all night watching Netflix marathons can be super tempting to do over Christmas break, don’t do it. The key to staying on track both physically and mentally is moderation. I’m not saying you can’t eat your mom’s homemade pie, or that you can’t spend a day relaxing on the couch, but try to maintain your regular routines. Exercising at least 3-4 times a week, getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and staying hydrated will help keep you feeling energized and focused. (Check out this post, if you want more holiday fitness tips!)
  4. Allow Yourself Some “Me Time”- No matter how busy it might get, make sure you schedule some “me time” for yourself. Whether this is in the form of a relaxing bubble bath or watching a movie curled up under a blanket, we all need those moments of relaxation to unwind and to regain our sanity. One of my favorite “me-moments” is to go for a walk while listening to music. It really helps to keep me relaxed and to avoid feeling burnt-out.
  5. Be Mindful- At the end of the day, try to remember to be present, in the moment, and to be mindful of what the season is really about. Instead of focusing on things that make you feel worried or overwhelmed, focus on the things that bring you feelings of joy. Focus on enjoying your favorite holiday meal, time spent with family members you don’t get to see often, and the blessings in your life. One way to be more mindful is by keeping a journal and each night writing down things that happened that day that made you happy. For inspiration, you can always look at it the next morning when you wake up, as a reminder of your blessings.
  6. Make Memories and Have Fun- Last but not least, have fun! Laugh, be silly, do something unexpected, and make memories with your loved ones. I always really like playing games with my family at gatherings because it’s a fun way to let loose and enjoy some much needed laughter. Life is too short to be anything but happy, so try to make the most of every situation and to not be too serious. And when all else fails, watch the movie Elf. Seriously, I don’t think anyone can watch that without laughing.

What ways do you de-stress during the holidays? What are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks for stopping by!- Cara


  1. I usually de-stress with a glass of wine and a few sugar cookies! lol Definitely helpful tips. Me-time is another biggie for me too. If I don’t get a little bit of downtime for myself, it’s bad news bears…

  2. Really good tips! I need to remember to drink water when I’m not working, I find sometimes I’ll have gone all day without drinking any! So bad!

    1. I do that sometimes too! It’s easy when you’re sitting at a desk but when I’m at home I do forget when I get busy.

  3. Great tips! I am all about keeping it simple this year and just unplugging more to be in the moment! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Branson! I’m definitely going to unplug over the next few weeks to spend more time with the family. πŸ™‚

  4. Me time is really important, like you said, because if we don’t have time to ourselves we can end up getting so burnt out that nothing feels fun anymore.

    1. Exactly! There have been years past where everything has been so overwhelming I’ve gotten to the point of “checking out” which is never a good thing. Now I try to manage my stress in a healthy way and these tips have been super helpful. πŸ™‚

  5. Love the reminder for “Me” time… it’s so easy to forget about ourselves as we are so busy giving this holiday season!

  6. Planning ahead is essential! Even if some people think I’m crazy about my planning–it helps me so much with stress

  7. These are great tips. I like the last one about living in the moment and enjoying it. Yes, it’s a hectic time of year, but it’s so important to smile, have fun, and ENJOY it! πŸ™‚
    erin | sandsunandmessybuns

    1. Exactly, Erin! My motto now is- If something stresses you out, just let it go and don’t worry with it. Having fun and making those memories are what it’s all about. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Brittany! They can be if you let it get to you, which is why I try to focus my attention on the fun parts! πŸ˜‰

  8. So many great tips! The holidays can be so stressful sometimes. I always tend to overload my schedule which leaves me feeling extra exhausted and worn out each week. Keeping up my gym workouts and eating habits is so crucial for me in keeping my stress at a minimum.

    1. Yes! Having exercise as a healthy stress-reliever for me is a must. Once I finally realized I didn’t have to do EVERYTHING during the holidays, it became much more enjoyable. Hope yours is great! πŸ™‚

  9. Such good tips. I used to stress to make everything so perfect and would end up not having fun. Just having fun and being present are so important. I can’t wait for Christmas!

    1. Been there, done that, and hopefully I will never make that error again. It’s so much better when you relax and have fun and not worry about all the tiny little details. Glad you enjoyed it! πŸ™‚

  10. Great tips, especially the one about keeping it simple. It’s so easy to try to go overboard and try all sorts of new things around the holidays. I know i’m guilty of it!

  11. You have no clue how much I needed this… I am stressing about everything when it comes to the holidays… we have tons of people we have to see.. tons of things to do… it can get chaotic

    1. It definitely can overwhelming, but learning to refocus your mind on the happy aspects of the season really does help. Try to stay mindful of that and hopefully you’ll have a really enjoyable Christmas! πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Kathy! Keeping it simple has been my focus this year. Learning to not overwhelm myself with projects has been relaxing in itself.

  12. Great tips! Definitely planning ahead, even though I’m absolutely horrible at that haha. Keeping it simple though is so crucial, with family there’s no need to stress yourself out by doing too much, just enjoy yourself!

    1. Thanks! I agree! Remembering that you don’t need to try to impress anyone and having fun is key. πŸ™‚

  13. This year I have cut back on some of the decorating and not doing as much baking as normal. We are giving more service and sharing our time with people. Good trade off.

    1. That’s a wonderful trade off Candy! I didn’t decorate quite as much either, and it’s felt good to spend my time doing other things. πŸ™‚

  14. These are some great tips! I def plan ahead with shopping because that is what gets me the most stressed out. I’m almost done with wrapping then I can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the holiday season! I don’t host parties but I can imagine that being overwhelming! This year I only have one place to go on xmas eve so I’m pretty pumped that I can just stay at one place and enjoy the night!

    1. Oh that sounds like a dream! We always have back to back gatherings, so it can get a bit overwhelming if I let it. I try to just focus on the good parts like seeing people I haven’t seen in awhile, and enjoying the yummy food, instead of getting stressed about the non-stop action.It helps keep my anxiety at bay and makes it much more enjoyable. πŸ™‚

  15. Yes to all of these! The holidays can be so stressful and all your tips will definitely help me keep the stress level down. I really like to do a holiday puzzle. There is something soothing about problem solving in that way. Plus when it’s done it is a pretty picture. And it’s a great activity to do while sipping on hot chocolate and watching a Christmas movie!

    Elizabeth Ann // http://www.lovedoinglife.com

    1. That sounds like fun! It’s been years (YEARS) since I’ve did a puzzle haha. You may have convinced me with the hot chocolate. πŸ™‚

  16. These are all really great tips! I think this is the first year I actually planned ahead and got my shopping done at a reasonable time haha. And it has been so much nicer. Now my family and I have been able to enjoy holiday activities without worry, like baking, playing in the snow and creating Christmas crafts.

    1. Oh I love to hear that! I’m hoping to start some holiday baking and doing some fun little crafts with the kids this week. They’re so excited, and that’s what it’s all about! πŸ™‚

  17. You are such a great tip giver and all of these are spot on! I have learned many of these over the years, and in fact I even did better this year. I told myself when I was out and about in the hustle and bustle just pretend like I was all alone and not to be overwhelmed by the lines or rude people. I still smiled and said merry Christmas to just about everyone and at the end of a couple more shopping days, I felt so much better! have a Merry Monday beautiful!

    1. Aw, thank-you! Kindness really does go a long way and even if others are being rude, at the end of the day learning to shake it off will make you feel so much better. Happy Monday! πŸ™‚

  18. This is so true Cara! What a great list. I think staying present in the moment is so important. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, but you’re really going to remember making that snowman together or playing games as a family!

    1. Exactly! I don’t hardly ever remember the Christmas presents or decorations from years past, but it’s the conversations and activities we did as a family that stick out in my mind. πŸ™‚

  19. I’ve let the ‘healthy habits’ go & can feel the difference. I feel like a slug … with tighter pants. No fun!

    1. Hopefully you’ll be able to get back on track so you can feel your best! I know you can do it, girl! πŸ˜‰

  20. Planning ahead and keeping things as simple as possible are lifesavers for me during the holidays. I want to be able to enjoy everything without feeling burnt out! Thanks for your tips!

    1. Exactly! When you’re burnt-out or worse “zoned-out” it’s not fun for anyone. Keeping it simple is pretty much my life motto now lol.

    1. Thanks! It should be a fun non-stressful time, so I think planning ahead and keeping it simple are the ones that really help me stay calm, cool, and collected. πŸ˜‰

  21. This is such a great list! It’s so easy to get caught up in things and not really enjoy the season. I’ve been doing a lot of things on this list and I have to say I’ve been having so much fun. I don’t think I can go back to the poor planning and last minute shopping like I’ve done before. Beautifully Candid

  22. Keeping the holidays as simple as possible are what get me through it and come out sane on the other side. We have a lot of places to travel for Christmas, so it is nice when we are able to plan things in advance. I also love getting Christmas present shopping done as early as possible. As of now, I have 90% of my shopping done, and plan to finish it within the next day or so! Online shopping has been my best friend so far!

    1. We thankfully don’t have to travel too much, but we have back to back gatherings, so it can get overwhelming if I don’t plan ahead. Glad to hear you’re almost finished with shopping! πŸ™‚

  23. Great tips-
    Planning ahead has definitely helped this holiday season be stress-free for me. πŸ™‚

  24. So important! Focusing on having fun and making memories instead of focusing on having the perfect holiday is way better.

    1. Exactly! It can be easy to go overboard, but in the end keeping it simple and focusing on what’s important will bring you a lot more joy. πŸ™‚

  25. #3. I’m terrible at that one. I LIVE by this motto but during the holidays it somehow gets thrown out the window! Thanks for the reminder. I was just chowing down on sweets and stayed up WAY too late last night – paying for it today when my boys were up at 5:45am. EEEEK!

    1. I try to always have a cheat day to keep my sanity in the realm of health, but for the most part I’ve gotten into a really good routine. Plus whenever I overindulge I always live to regret it the next day when I’m feeling groggy.

  26. Keeping it simple is huge! Trying to balance everything and have a Pinterest- perfect Christmas will drive anyone mad.

  27. This is so true. It’s been a stresser since Thanksgiving. Multiple trips planned home, multiple events to go to, decorating, Christmas shopping, crafts, baking… The list is endless it feels this Season! Sometimes you just need to sit back and remember why your celebrating. Plus not getting lost in the To-Do list and staying mindful really makes everything more enjoyable instead of stressful!

    1. Exactly! It can be really overwhelming with all the planned events, but focusing on the important parts (like seeing your little one’s eyes light up when he sees the Christmas tree for the first time) is what it’s all about. Thanks for reading, Sha. πŸ™‚

  28. I love your point about keeping it simple! I think so many people think they need to over do it (my mother for example) when really….your truly loving guests won’t CARE if you keep it simple.

    1. Thanks Chelsea! As a struggling perfectionist, I have to constantly remind myself of that one. But over the years I’ve thankfully gotten a lot better at not feeling like I need to do everything. Thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

  29. #1 – YES. I keep track of everything in my planner and it is a life saver , especially during the holidays! And I love #4 – scheduled me time is so important to keeping your sanity. Great post, girl!

  30. the holidays are always super hectic and busy for me. there is just so much going on 24/7. these are really good tips πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Chanel! It can be a really chaotic time, but making sure you slow down and remember what’s truly important is a good way to not get overwhelmed. πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *