6 easy ways to manage holiday stress

10 Dec

by Kristina Dupre


The holidays can bring on a great deal of stress, resulting in restlessness, lack of motivation, poor concentration, irritability and feelings of being overwhelmed. Use these simple techniques for maintaining focus and balance.

The holidays can bring on a great deal of stress, resulting in restlessness, lack of motivation, poor concentration, irritability and feelings of being overwhelmed.

This kind of stress is common, but can be managed with perspective and practice.

Use these simple grounding techniques and changes in thought patterns to help maintain focus and balance.

1. Maintain realistic expectations

This time of year is filled with expectations of the imagined holiday experience. First, it is wise to check with loved ones as to what they expect from you. For example, they may love the opportunity to skip the carol singing or the church play this year. You will never know unless you ask.

2. Be honest and communicate

Negotiate what you need, clearly and simply. If it would be helpful to shop online during the lunch hour, ask your supervisor if that is allowed. If you need to leave early a couple of days, ask in advance. Nothing increases stress like needing to be at a school party at 2:00, with a department meeting scheduled at the same time. As soon as you know your schedule, communicate it with you team. This may lead to a more cooperative atmosphere.

3. Don’t take it personally

Stress can arise when we ruminate about the “unfairness” of working when others are absent. If you feel any negative emotion because you’ve perhaps chosen to work on a day that coworkers have opted to take off, then you are taking the situation personally. Keep perspective. The workload is temporary. You can make a different plan next year. Come January, you’ll be grateful to have your team of employees working in unison again.

4. Work like a hound dog

Have you ever seen hound dogs on a hunt? They are all business, noses down and tails up. They have no time for water cooler chit chat or a social lunch break. The hound dog has a wonderful quality of compartmentalizing work and play. If you can hone the skills of maintaining a high level of focus and concentration during the work hours, it may help you accomplish more with the negotiated schedule you and your supervisor agreed upon.

If distracting thoughts arise, roll your head around and take a few long, deep breaths. Think “fill up, hold it, let it go” as you take slow deep breaths. This will help you refocus on the task at hand.

5. Maintain a drink limit

Excessive alcohol consumption may increase during the weeks leading up to the holidays with the occasional party on a “school night.” Set your limit and stick to it. Excess alcohol consumption can potentially impact concentration level, energy level, physical wellbeing and frustration tolerance.

6. Be true to yourself

Spend some time thinking about the holiday you would most enjoy. Does it include a simple schedule or do you like the nonstop hustle and bustle? Do you even like fruitcake? Are you tired of cooking the extravagant meal or do you truly enjoy the process?

Whatever your idea is for the holidays, do that!

Your experience is up to you and holiday time may be a great avenue to practice setting personal boundaries by declining some invitations. You can say ‘no’ and people will still value you.

Kristina Dupre is a licensed professional counselor with extensive experience working with diverse populations in private and group settings within corporate, educational and behavioral/mental health organizations. Her passion is teaching others simple, effective ways to understand and manage stress. Her stress management workshops are designed to engage audience participation through hands-on activities to maximize engagement and learning retention.

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One response to “6 easy ways to manage holiday stress

  1. Darlene

    December 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    The end of year holidays can definitely be stressful. With family events, presents to buy, and parties to host, it can seem like there is too much to do in just one month’s time. This leaves many people (especially women) feeling stressed out, either about their finances, about how long it takes to plan the family Christmas dinner, or just about hosting and spending time with family members who you might very well love, but can also add to your frazzled nerves during the holiday season. Having realistic expectations, proper planning, delegating, and being flexible are essential holiday stress management strategies.


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