8 Ways to Deal With Holiday Stress

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, holiday season is upon us, and that means one thing: stress. It can also mean happiness, warm feelings of family, and presents. But if you’ve got the holiday blues, don’t fret; we’ve got eight fun ways to deal with holiday stress.

  1. Drink heavily.

    If you’re over the age of 21 and your holiday plans are bringing you down, consider a holiday-themed cocktail as social lubricant. Is your mother going to ask you for the 36th year in a row just exactly why you’re not married yet? Will you have to endure embarrassing family stories about your misspent youth for the 900th time? Don’t worry about it so much. Add a little Bailey’s to your coffee, or volunteer to bring the egg nog. You’ll be toasty from the inside out, and hopefully more able to endure the awkwardness with a smile. The best part about the holidays? They end.

  2. Be a Scrooge.

    If you really get stressed out about the holidays, remove yourself from the situation. Don’t show up to any holiday get-togethers, don’t send cards, and deactivate your Facebook and cell phone so that no one can find you. Remove all sources of holiday cheer. Skip Christmas. There’s a really good novel about it. If it’s going to make you cranky for months, what’s the ultimate harm?

  3. Do something kind.

    Easiest way to diffuse holiday stress that doesn’t involve dissing your loved ones and drinking yourself into a stupor? Get outside of yourself, you selfish complainer. Volunteer at a homeless shelter for a few hours. Be a bell-ringer. Give a huge (anonymous!) gift to charity. Help an old lady cross the street. Don’t complain so much. The holidays can be stressful, but chances are, if you’re reading this from a safe place, you probably have a more blessed life than you imagine.

  4. Make your gifts.

    Stressed out because money is tight and it’s gift-giving season? Don’t spend money: make your gifts. Get started now so you have time to finish by Christmas. A jar of homemade jelly, a bedazzled bobby pin made with love, or even a handwritten note can do a world of good to the people you love. The holidays should be about community and family, not material goods. Make a list, set a unilateral price limit (meaning, both Mom and your neighbor get $5 gifts this year), and learn a few recipes or crafts. It’s really not that hard. Go easy on yourself.

  5. Don’t play the game.

    What specifically stresses you out about the holidays? Identify what that is, and decide not to engage. If you have to be around condescending family members, minimize your time, invest in some earbuds, or simply don’t go home for the holidays. If buying gifts is your biggest stressor, just don’t do it. Write notes; donate to charity in your family’s name; do whatever you need to take some stress off yourself.

  6. Take a chill pill.

    Literally. If it’s really that bad, maybe you have Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or just good old-fashioned depression. Go to the doctor. Consider your options. These things affect a significant portion of the population. You are not alone; don’t act like it.

  7. Get moving.

    Exercise can bust the blues quicker than a drink or a good cry. If you’re having any holiday woes, try working them out on a treadmill. Releasing endorphins, getting your body moving, and a sense of accomplishment are all key factors that make exercise a perfect holiday stress-buster.

  8. Change something.

    Is this the first year you’ve been stressed at the holidays, or the 30th? Is there something in your behavior and holiday habits or attitude you can change to bring about a less stressful season? If you’re lonely, be around people. If you’re tired of people, take some holiday time to yourself. There are hundreds of options around this time of year – don’t let yourself get the blues if you can help it. Happy Thanksgiving!