How To Minimize Holiday Stress Through Mindful Focus And Self-Care

Even in a good year, the stress of the holidays can be a bit much. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 61% of Americans report feeling stressed during the holiday season. Whether related to money, travel, or family dynamics – to name just a few common culprits – the anxiety of the holidays often feels like an unavoidable feature of this purportedly joyous time of the year.

As hectic as the holidays can get, they also offer a unique opportunity to pause, recharge, and experiment with our own habits to foster the inner peace we need to stay sane – and make the most of our time with others.

While some holiday stressors can’t be eliminated entirely, there’s a lot we can do to minimize them. It all starts with where and how we direct our focus. 

  • Plan Ahead (and Be Selective) - Making a list, checking it twice, and crossing finished items off will ensure you’re prepared to handle whatever arises. Before you go hunting for the perfect gift for everyone else, give yourself the gift of sanity by sitting down and making a clear, realistic plan as early as possible. 
  • Focus on the Things (and People) That Mean the Most - As we switch from planning to doing, it’s important to be selective about where and how we focus our attention. Holiday dinners and thoughtful gift-giving are nice and all, but it’s often the smaller, quieter moments spent together that wind up being the most memorable. 
  • Embrace Nostalgia - For many people, the holidays are a rare chance to return to their hometown or spend time with certain family members. Take advantage of it by getting nostalgic. Visiting old haunts, re-telling classic vacation stories, and digging through childhood mementos are just a few ways to tap into memories and feelings that make us feel good – all while staying present and making new memories in the process.
  • Use the Holidays to Recharge - Believe it or not, the holidays can be a great time to stop and recharge our batteries. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of planning, shopping, wrapping gifts, and cooking, it’s important to find time for more relaxing activities. The downtime of the holidays is the perfect opportunity to put away our phones and dive into a book printed on good, old fashioned paper.  Reading can reportedly reduce stress by 68 percent, and, according to another study, it also allows you to “physically reset, and lowers your blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of stress.”