Blog: Tips for handling holiday stress

Close-up of Christmas Decorations Hanging on Tree

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, but for many people, they’re also a time of stress. Between the shopping, the cooking, the decorating, and the parties, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

If you’re feeling the holiday stress creeping in, don’t worry, you’re not alone. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of Americans report feeling stressed during the holidays.

But there are things you can do to mitigate that stress! Here are a few tips, including some personal examples from the NPFY staff:

Manage your expectations.

The holidays are often portrayed in movies and TV shows as being perfect and magical. But let’s be real, they’re usually not. There will be mishaps, there will be arguments, and there will be things that don’t go according to plan.

Instead of aiming for perfection, aim for enjoyment. Focus on the things that are important to you and let go of the rest.

From Senior Program Coordinator Emily Taracena – Take time for yourself.

I find that it can get overwhelming during holidays because you are spending a lot of time with others, so taking moments to myself is so helpful. Even if it’s just taking a few minutes to go for a walk, watching a show, listening to good music on my way home, etc.

Emily Taracena, Senior Program coordinator

Set boundaries.

It’s okay to say no to things that you don’t have time for or that you don’t want to do. You don’t have to attend every party or bake every cookie.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, delegate tasks or ask for help from friends and family.

From Maketing Manager Mary Kate Nacke – Take care of yourself.

I find I can deal with stress and conflict so much better when I prioritize sleep and exercise! My schedule fills up so quickly this time of year and adding a workout to the calendar or putting off tasks to go to bed early can seem counterproductive, but rest and movement make everything else much easier to take on! 💪

Mary Kate nacke, marketing manager

Connect with loved ones.

The holidays are a time to spend time with the people you love who make you feel safe. Make time for quality conversations, laughter, and shared experiences.

These connections can help you feel supported and loved.

From President and CEO Karen Johnson, Ph.D – Give back to others.

Over Thanksgiving, I was feeling a bit lonely because I wasn’t going to travel to be with my family. So, I got up super early on Thanksgiving morning and went to the AZ Animal Welfare League shelter and participated in the “Turkey Trot,” where we broke out the shelter dogs and took them on a 3.5 mile walk. It felt good to know I was brightening a shelter dog’s day, got all my steps in, and was reminded of the gratitude I have for my own dogs and all the joys that pets bring. It brought a sense of purpose to my day.

Karen Johnson, PhD, president and CEo

Seek professional help if you need it.

If you’re struggling to cope with holiday stress, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist can teach you coping mechanisms and help you manage your expectations.

Additional tips:

  • Listen to calming music.
  • Practice mindfulness or meditation.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Write in your journal.

We hope these tips help you have a happy and stress-free holiday season!