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  • Coach Shannon Strogal

Holiday Stress? How to Beat It.

For some people the holidays bring cheer and joy, but that is not the case for everyone. For others, it can be a very stressful and depressing time with all of the dizzying array of additional demands such as parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.


Too often we take holiday stress for granted.


Too often we take holiday stress for granted. Actually, we often have higher expectations for this season than for any other time of the year. Taking the time to manage these expectations is vital to truly experiencing the joys of the holidays. Here are some of our suggestions to get the most out of the holiday season or, at least, allow you to take some of the stress out of Christmas.

Feeling The Seasonal Blues?

For some people, the holidays can be a season that brings on depression or the holiday blues. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, and anger can intensify when contrasted with the joy expected of the holidays. Reasons for experiencing the holiday blues may include:

  • Unresolved family issues.

  • The loss of a loved one.

  • Unrealistic expectations of family, gifts, events, etc.

  • Being away from family and friends.

  • Feeling isolated from others.

  • Coping with changes in family obligations, particularly divorce.


Book a vacation with a close friend or family member!


A fews way that can help you cope or destress include:

  • Try something new! Find a new hobby that gives you purpose and fulfillment.

  • Take a vacation with a family member or friend. Getting away for the holidays, especially somewhere sunny, is a great way to soak up some vitamin D and reconnect with those closest to you.

  • Spend time with people who care about you. Surrounding yourself with people that know you and provide support can boost your mood and give you the support you need.

  • Volunteer your time to help others. Giving is the true meaning of the holidays and volunteering your time is one gift that cannot be bought.

  • If you are religious, take time to reflect on the spiritual significance of the holidays. No matter what religion or spiritual path you are on, taking time to remember the true meaning of this time of year is important.

  • Stay active. Get out. Go for a walk. Staying active can boost your mood, keep you from gaining weight and keep you mentally sharp during this busy time of year.

  • Get help if you need it. Don't be embarrassed to ask for help this time of year. Seeking out someone to talk to who can give you the tools you need to manage your health is nothing to be embarrassed about. We should all have multiple tools in our tool box for mental and physical health.


Taking care of yourself over the holidays is not selfish. It's self-care!


Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Are you’re expectations for the holidays too high? Are you expecting yourself to attend every holiday party, make all of the same treats as last year, buy the perfect gifts, host the perfect party and clean the house? If your answer is yes, then making some changes to your expectations will be most helpful to you. Do not hold on to unrealistic goals, such as creating the most memorable holiday experience, and most important, remember to take care of yourself.

Here's our favourite holiday stress prevention list:

Holiday shopping

  • Make a budget and stick to it.

  • Giving homemade gifts are thoughtful to receive and fulfilling to give and they don't have to be tacky. Frame a photo of your favourite memory with your loved ones, bake them your favourite holiday cookies, take your mom and sister for a pedicure, time spent with loved ones means more than any store bought gift ever could.

Planning family get-togethers

  • Buy prepared foods when you can instead of cooking everything from scratch. Most grocery stores have a great selection of prepared foods in the deli section.

  • Ask your guests to bring their favourite dishes. Make it a potluck with a theme and watch your party prep get cut in half!

Scheduling time with family and friends

  • Simplify holiday commitments and family traditions. Maybe this year you book a banquet room and have someone else cook! Get together for afternoon tea and cookies instead of the big Christmas dinner. Most of your friends have kids and bed time is non-negotiable.

  • Don't over-schedule yourself. Don't be afraid to say "sorry but not this year." It can be tough at first but you'll thank yourself later.

Pause before the holiday spread

  • Avoid overeating and over drinking, especially alcoholic beverages. Trying having a glass of water before your meal or eating before you go. Filling up on nutrient dense foods before the holiday party will help stop you from overindulging.

  • DO NOT starve yourself prior to a holiday party meal. This approach can lead to eating too much of the wrong foods and cause that holiday weight gain. Make sure you eat all of your meals each day and drink plenty of water.

  • Continue to exercise and be active. Prioritizing your regular workout routine during the holidays has many benefits such as stress management, weight management and sticking to your goals. Who needs New Years resolutions when you are already on track!

Managing your time

  • Set priorities and let go of impossible commitment goals. Overbooking yourself, agreeing to bake the three tier cake for the office party or agreeing to host your entire family might seem like you're being generous. Before agreeing to anything take a minute to think about the task and your schedule BEFORE agreeing.

  • Stop and enjoy yourself. Take a minute to sit back, look at the lights and enjoy the magic of Christmas like you did as a kid.

  • Don't spend all of your time planning activities for others. This may lead you to feeling drained and unappreciated in the end. Take time for yourself! Who said booking a massage or getting a manicure isn't allowed in December. YOU ARE WORTH IT!

  • Ask others, including the kids, to help you complete chores. Who better to ask than the people that live in your house and make the mess?

Take control of the holidays

Don't let the holidays become something you dread each year. Instead, take some steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holiday season. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can manage them before they lead to a breakdown. With a little planning and some attention to your needs, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

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