Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

November 26, 2019 by Courtney Liggera, Psy.D.

Even though it is often referred to as, “the most wonderful time of the year,” the holiday season can also be very challenging for many.

While the festivities and the advent of a new year are fun and exciting, the holidays also present an endless amount of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, to name just a few.  As a result, many people find that they are faced with an increase in stress, anxiety and depression throughout the holiday season.  In fact, according to a poll by the American Psychological Association, eight out of ten people anticipate increased stress over the holidays. In some cases, the increase in stress and anxiety may even lead to depression.

However, there are many ways to minimize stress, anxiety and depression so you can relax and enjoy this time of year.  Try out some (or all!) of these tips for a happy and healthy holiday season:

  1. Be intentional with your actions and time. The first step toward discipline begins with you getting organized. Using a schedule is your best friend. But, each thing that fills a slot on your scheduling needs to be for a particular reason, not “just because.”
  2. Be selfish … in prioritizing your well-being. You can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself! One of the first things people let go around this time of the year are their healthy routines and behaviors.  You don’t need to be perfect with your routine, but strive for consistency.
  3. Be health-conscious. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
  4. Get plenty of sleep. Make sure you are getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
  5. Get moving! Incorporate regular physical activity into each day. Even a 20 minute walk can help with fighting off anxiety and stress.
  6. Make some time for yourself. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring your inner calm.
  7. Be realistic about your expectations. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. Life is messy, and beauty lies in the unexpected.
  8. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
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