10 foolproof ways to relieve holiday stress

The holiday season is in full swing, and though it’s a time meant to be full of celebration, togetherness, and fulfillment, many people experience anything but. Whether it’s work stress, family tension, loneliness, or any number of other stressors, there’s often a lot on people’s minds, which can prevent one from fully enjoying this time of year. 

You’re not alone in your stress or discomfort—and we’re here to help you manage it and help you find some peace. Here are 10 ways to relieve the stress that comes with the holiday season.

1. Meditation.

Meditation can serve you well in many ways, but at the top of the list is its ability to significantly reduce stress. This practice is a way of calming the mind and finding peace within—and it will surely provide you relief from the holiday hustle and bustle, as its effectiveness is proven in multiple studies

It can help you address the true source of your stress and give you a way through which to soothe it. Consider meditating as a way to remedy any feelings of anxiety, depression, or stress during this busy time of year.

2. Budgeting and boundaries.

The holiday season often demands an increase in spending, as we all scramble to find the perfect holiday gifts for our friends, family, and significant others. However, there is a very effective way to reduce this rather stressful aspect of the season: budgeting. Sit down and calculate just how much money you can and should spend on gifts for your loved ones. This way, you’re less likely to splurge on a purchase you just can’t afford, and in turn, prevent some guaranteed headaches.

Or, do one better and start a new gift-giving tradition with your friends and family. Recommend Secret Santa or White Elephant, so that each person only has to spend money on a singular gift. Setting boundaries on who you can (or should) buy gifts for can be an effective way to save you financial stress in the new year. 

If you’re worried about hurting your loved one’s feelings, have a chat with them about it—explain your situation and the decisions you’ve made to support yourself. If they truly care about you, they’ll want you to have peace, too, and will respect your decision.

3. Exercise.

Exercise is an extremely beneficial exercise way to relieve stress and improve your health, both physical and mental. Simply going for a stroll around the block or a light jog on the treadmill can reduce stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. 

Whenever the holiday hype starts to get to you, stop what you’re doing and fit in an activity that suits you. If you’re not a fan of the gym and it’s too cold outside for an outdoor workout, try working out in your very own living room. You can simply pull up a YouTube video of an instructor guiding a workout session, or find another resource online. Even dancing to your favorite song for a few minutes or doing some stretching can help release some of the stress in your body.

4. Go outside.

Multiple studies have shown that immersing yourself in nature helps to relieve stress, anger, and fear, as well as enhance more pleasant feelings. 

Additionally, admiring holiday lights and decorations has proven to reduce stress and stimulate positive emotions, many of which are rooted in the nostalgia of childhood. Talk a walk around the neighborhood or go somewhere you know is decorated for the season and take a minute to soak in the fresh air and glowing lights.

5. Create a schedule.

One of the most common stressors around the holidays is how much there is to do and how little time there is to do it. Even if the to-dos are fun and exciting like seeing Christmas lights, spending time with family, or watching a movie, all these activities add up and can add additional stress—especially when it’s hard to keep track of them all. 

To curtail the stress that comes with this, try to make a schedule and stick to it as best you can. Things can of course move around to adjust for whatever comes up, but a schedule will at least take the pressure off of you to remember all the details yourself. This will give you an initial guide to follow, hopefully providing you with a little peace of mind.

6. Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is just what we all need during the stress-inducing holiday season. Mindfulness is all about living in the present moment and paying attention to the here and now. 

For example, instead of hurrying home from work, try to enjoy the walk: focus on each step forward and take in all of the scenery. Focusing on the present can take our mind off the future, often helping us put our worries into perspective. Take a minute to consider how you’re feeling, what’s causing those feelings, and what you can do right now to help take some stress off.

7. Take a few deep breaths.

If meditation or mindfulness is a bit too out of your element, try taking a few deep breaths. This simple practice just might prove enough to ease your mind and relieve some of your stress this holiday season. 

Simply breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth as you allow your lungs to fill to capacity, then relax again. This deep breathing technique can help you relieve the stress and anxiety you might be experiencing during the holidays.

8. Listen to your favorite music.

That’s right, simply plugging into your iPhone or turning the radio up in your car can significantly reduce stress. In fact, there’s such a thing as music therapy: an established health profession that uses music in therapy to address physical, emotional, and cognitive needs. 

While this is a little more complicated than listening to the radio, it’s all built on the foundation that music is a powerful entity—and additionally, an effective stress reliever.

9. Take a nap.

Naps can be viewed as unnecessary or unproductive, especially when there’s a lot on your plate—but they actually provide us with some amazing health benefits, one being stress reduction. While it might not be beneficial to nap for hours at a time, sleeping for a good 30 minutes will do the trick and get you through the stressful holiday season.

10. Kiss someone under the mistletoe.

As it turns out, kissing may be just the ticket to easing your stress this December! Doing so releases oxytocin—or the “love hormone”—which, in turn, has proven to reduce stress levels. Even just a peck can result in lower levels of stress.

As you run around buying gifts and thinking of your loved ones, don’t forget to take time for yourself this holiday season. Give yourself the gift of reliving your stress with these tips and tricks, so you too can enjoy the festivities and holiday cheer.

Table of contents

1. Meditation.

2. Budgeting and boundaries.

3. Exercise.

4. Go outside.

5. Create a schedule.

6. Practice mindfulness.

7. Take a few deep breaths.

Show all items
Recent articles

Want to talk to a therapist? We have over 2,000 providers across the US ready to help you in person or online.

  • Writer
  • 4 sources
Picture of woman in front of flowers

Hannah DeWitt

Hannah is a Junior Copywriter at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor’s degree in English: Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish from Seattle Pacific University. Previously, Hannah has worked in copywriting positions in the car insurance and trucking sectors doing blog-style and journalistic writing and editing.

We only use authoritative, trusted, and current sources in our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our efforts to deliver factual, trustworthy information.

  • Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., Berger, Z., Sleicher, D., Maron, D. D., Shihab, H. M., Ranasinghe, P. D., Linn, S. T., Saha, S., Bass, E. B., & Haythornthwaite, J. A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.13018

  • Harvard Health. (2011, February 1). Benefits of exercise – reduces stress, anxiety, and helps fight depression, from Harvard Men’s Health Watch. https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/benefits-of-exercisereduces-stress-anxiety-and-helps-fight-depression

  • How nature can make you kinder, happier, and more creative. (n.d.). Greater Good. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_nature_makes_you_kinder_happier_more_creative

  • Floyd, K., Boren, J. P., Hannawa, A. F., Hesse, C., McEwan, B. L., & Veksler, A. E. (2009). Kissing in marital and cohabiting relationships: Effects on blood lipids, stress, and relationship satisfaction. Western Journal of Communication, 73(2), 113–133. https://doi.org/10.1080/10570310902856071

Struggling with stress?

Thriveworks can help.

Browse top-rated therapists near you, and find one who meets your needs. We accept most insurances, and offer weekend and evening sessions.

Rated 4.4 from over 14,550 Google reviews

No comments yet
Disclaimer

The information on this page is not intended to replace assistance, diagnosis, or treatment from a clinical or medical professional. Readers are urged to seek professional help if they are struggling with a mental health condition or another health concern.

If you’re in a crisis, do not use this site. Please call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or use these resources to get immediate help.

Get the latest mental wellness tips and discussions, delivered straight to your inbox.