3 tips for coping with holiday stress

Koa Health
Publish Date

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season can leave many feeling overwhelmed—and not with happiness. Between end-of-year deadlines, a packed social calendar, a long (and expensive) shopping list, and sometimes difficult family dynamics, it’s easy to see how some associate the holidays with stress, loneliness,  financial anxiety, fatigue, and grief.

If you’re someone who typically dreads the holidays, you’re certainly not alone. Most people (62%) report a significant increase in stress this time of year.  And as of July 2023, 61% of consumers are living paycheck to paycheck … without the added financial strain of seasonal gift buying. What’s more, seven in ten adults experience some degree of loneliness and isolation during the holidays. 

Despite all this, holiday joy doesn’t have to be out of reach. Here are three tips to help you cope with the ups and downs of the season (and maybe even enjoy it!):

Anticipate (and prepare for) stress

Budgeting for holiday expenses is an important part of keeping stress in check. But having a plan in place for how you’re going to handle unexpected stress can make a big difference in your emotional capacity. Keep your expectations about the holidays realistic—avoid overloading yourself, organize your time, and strive for fun and good-enough rather than perfection. Having a go-to strategy for managing in-the-moment stress is key. Whether it’s a short walk, listening to your favorite song, or reflecting on a happy memory, knowing how you’re going to deal with overwhelming situations can make them seem less daunting.

Prioritize self-care

During this busy time of year, it’s all too common for our daily routines to fall by the wayside. When we’re off-schedule, it can affect our sleep, eating habits, exercise routine, and downtime—all of which can have an impact on our mental and physical wellbeing. Be mindful of burnout and dedicate time to yourself each day. Whether that means ending your day with a guided meditation, keeping a daily gratitude journal, or watching your favorite holiday movies, commit to doing something that makes you happy and helps you disconnect from the stress of the season daily.

Reach out when you need support

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It’s okay to not be okay. No one can do it all alone, and you don’t have to either! Don’t be afraid to utilize your social support system during the holidays—that’s what they’re here for, after all. Need help planning a party? Ask a friend for ideas. Feeling overwhelmed about cooking everything for your family’s holiday dinner? Assign everyone a dish, beverage, or dessert to ease the burden of hosting. Feeling lonely or grieving a loss? Call a loved one to talk through difficult emotions. This is a time of connection, so reaching out to a friend, family member, or coworker for support might make them feel as good as it makes you feel!

Remember the holidays aren’t about wowing everyone with gifts, a Michelin-star dining experience, or an opulent party—they’re about spending time with the people we care about, sharing joy and good cheer, and preparing for a healthy, happy new year. Looking for more ways to stay well this holiday season? Download our Holiday mental wellbeing toolkit for tips, resources, and activities to help you thrive through the new year and beyond.

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Koa Health

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