Managing Stress in the Holiday Season
Managing Stress in the Holiday Season

The holidays can be an enjoyable time—but not for everyone. Some of us suffer from the blues, whether it's because we can't celebrate with family or have a hard time adjusting to the colder, shorter days. Perhaps being around family brings back old dynamics that make you feel bad. Perhaps you don’t have any family or live too far away to be with them. Or maybe it’s the cold weather and the shorter days. For many, all that goodwill and cheer can feel like pressure. Here are tips to beat the holiday blues.
Stress Quiz
What does this quiz say about you?
Answer “yes” or “no:”
1. I'm irritable
2. I'm usually tired
3. I have little to say to people
4. I have no time for leisure activities
5. I'm inefficient
6. I use of drugs to cope with job pressures
7. I feel powerless about my job; lack feelings of success or challenge
8. I forget appointments, deadlines or personal possessions
9. I have insomnia, headaches, colds
10. I hate going to work
11. I'm pessimistic
Interpretation; “yes” to 6 or more, suggests you may be stressed. Fortunately, stress is preventable and can be a catalyst for growth.
Shake the holiday blues

  • Make something for yourself. Creativity feeds the soul and focuses the mind. Pick something you’ve always wanted to learn how to make. Soap! Beer! Bread! Jewelry! Leather stamping! Painting! Knitting! Go to your local craft or hardware store, or checkout YouTube and find something you’d like to learn how to do and do it!
  • Make something for other people. Cut that soap up and wrap the bars individually in something you’ve designed. You can design a label for that microbrew you made and give a bottle to coworkers! Hand paint some holiday cards. Getting something homemade means more to many.
  • Throw a casual dinner party. Gathering a few friends for a nice evening at your home can be inexspensive fun. You can throw together a salad, make spaghetti and meatballs, and ask guests to bring dessert and drinks.
  • Host a potluck. Invite people in you community and people you work with. It’s a wonderful time to reach out to people you’d like to get to know better. You’d be surprised how much fun you’ll have and how many new friends you’ll make.
  • Limit time you spend on social media. Social networks can be great for connecting but they can also sometimes skew how we perceive ourselves and other people. We can be fooled into feeling as if everyone else’s lives are so much better than our own, but they’re not really. Most of us try to show our best selves on social networks and we should. But there are times when it’s better just to turn it off.
  • Watch something funny. Laughter is a great healer! Watch anything that makes you laugh and reminds you that life has absurdities. Watch movies starring your favorite comedians.
  • Be grateful. Remind yourself of what you are grateful for. When you focus on what you have, rather than what you lack, you emanate the energy of abundance. And the truth is we all have something to be grateful for!
  • Respect yourself. Engage in positive self-talk. Tell yourself, “I’m OK just as I am,” or “I’m human and I’ll make mistakes.” Reward yourself. Realize that you don’t always have to prove anything or excel over others.
  • Restructure work time. List your job energizes and stressors. Concentrate on the positive responsibilities, and intersperse negative activities with short breaks and rewards. Avoid unnecessary meetings and delegate.
  • Have a positive outlook. See the glass half full instead of half empty. Reinforce the positive in yourself and others. Most of all, develop a sense of humor and learn to laugh at yourself. Smell the roses. Enjoy small pleasures such as walking in the park or watching toddlers play.
  • Keep problems in perspective.  Mistakes and setbacks, even outright failures can be learning experiences. Accept responsibility or your actions.
  • Get away from it all. Have other interests besides work. Make family, leisure and time fun. Leave your worries outside of the bedroom and try to sleep at least seven hours every night.
  • Cultivate meaningful relationships. These can be built from a variety of people including work associates, neighbors, clients, or club members. Talk about frustrations to trusted individuals.
  • Add spice to your life. Try doing something different occasionally. What’s unusual depends on each person. However, you might try having a costume party, playing a game you enjoyed as a child, or kayaking.
  • Listen to your inner self. Pay attention to your dreams, sorrows and beliefs. If you want more time to watch your children grow, don’t play golf with colleagues. Each day, listen to yourself, even for five minutes.
  • Seek professional advice. If you can’t manage on your own, seek help from a reputable mental health professional.


Dr. Carole Kanchier, career and personal growth expert, is author of the award-winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life.  
A registered psychologist, coach, speaker, and columnist, Carole Kanchier helps individuals manage stress.