5 Ways To Combat Stress During The Holidays

How to cope at the most wonderful but also most overwhelming time of the year.

Norrie Beach
4 min readDec 15, 2021


Photo by Alex Padurariu on Unsplash

There are so many things I love about the holiday season. I love the lights, Christmas music, hot drinks, and excuses to wear all the red and green and snowflake patterns I can find. But this will be my second holiday season without my mom, who died in a car accident in 2020, and lately, I find the holidays more overwhelming than relaxing. I find that I’m constantly reminded of the hole in my heart that’s been there since I lost my mom, and I’m exhausted trying to navigate the “new normal” that my family is still trying to adapt to. I am trying to balance all of these emotions with my full time job, the need to find presents for my loved ones (not my strong suit), coordinating travel plans, dinner reservations, and more. Part of me wishes I could fast forward to January 1st and skip all of the chaos. If you feel the same way, here are five tools you can use to re-charge and enjoy the holidays this year.

Calm Your Body and Your Mind Will Follow

I recently read Gayatri Devi’s book, A Calm Brain: Unlocking Your Natural Relaxation System. In the book, she suggests that the secret to calming your mind is to calm your body instead. To do this, try soothing tactics such as holding and sipping on a hot tea, listening to calming music, or getting a massage. Most importantly, find a way to start your day slowly. Don’t just jump right into your emails or instant messages or family chaos. Spend some time doing things mindfully to show your brain that it’s okay to quiet down. By slowing down your body, you’re encouraging a slow mind.

Take Some Time for Yourself

Sometimes, the holidays are full of family time. Over Thanksgiving, I shared a room with my sister and my cousin for five days, and I felt like I didn’t have a second alone. During the second half of the week, I started getting up early and going on walks by myself. Just 20 minutes by myself made a huge difference in how I felt for the rest of the day, and I was able to focus more on the people I loved because I had taken some time to focus on myself.

Listen To Your Body

The holidays often include more food and alcohol than you would typically consume. Don’t worry too much about it (it’s totally natural, and you shouldn’t fixate on it), but do pay attention to how it’s affecting your body. For some people, it’s easy to bounce back from a dip in your eating and drinking habits, but for others this stray from your routine could have a negative affect on your mental health. According to Healthline, sugar can spike anxiety and worry because when your blood sugar is unstable, so is your mood. Alcohol too can have a huge affect on your mood, particularly if you’re already more stressed than usual. So don’t worry too much about what you consume over the holidays, but listen to your body and let that dictate how far you go.

Get Some Vitamin D

I don’t know how your family does it, but in my family we spend most of the holidays in the living room in our pajamas. While this is nice for a few days, eventually we get a little stir crazy and start to feel pretty sluggish. One way to improve this feeling is getting some sunlight. Vitamin D will increase your seratonin, and being outside is a great way to decrease stress. Try going for a short walk outside every day for the added endorphin boost.

Focus on What You Can Control

When I’m fixating on something, like the holidays, it helps for me to sit down and think about what is in my control and what is completely uncontrollable. Then, I make a plan based on what I can control, and I try and let everything else go. During moments when things feel especially stressful, I say to myself “this situation is not in my control. How I react to it is.” Saying that to myself and focusing on my breathing for a minute helps me reframe my mind and keep myself resilient during overwhelming seasons.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but I think we can all agree that it’s also the most overwhelming. I hope these five tips help you navigate the season and enjoy yourself, despite the holiday stress.



Norrie Beach

Freelance writer. Blogger. Lover of true crime podcasts, appetizers, and going to the beach.