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  • Austen McFarren, MS, LPCC

Tips on Reducing Holiday Stress

Updated: Jan 18

Although the holidays are a time to gather and celebrate, it is also a time of high stress for many families. Here are some tips to consider to reduce your anxiety this holiday season:


  • Take time to reflect on what has made past holiday gatherings memorable for your family. Oftentimes, it isn’t the gifts we remember, it is the traditions, the board games, the moments of laughter. 

  • Set expectations for holiday gatherings early if they have changed from previous years. We are living in difficult times financially, and just like you, your children like to have a plan. 

  • Take a moment to care for yourself, during a time where we tend to prioritize the ones we love. Take a lot of breaks from the many “to do” lists you have made and take time to care for yourself. For example, exercise, do some holiday crafts, get a massage, try a new holiday flavored coffee creamer. 

  • Take more time to hydrate! The winter months in the Midwest cause us to crank up the heat, consume more carbs, which can lead us all to frequent headaches, dry skin, and fatigue. 

  • Set boundaries with holiday events that exhaust you. Set time limits for yourself at these events, or plan to let others know you won’t make it this year. It’s okay to say no! 

  • Ask for more help this year in planning and/or cleaning up after events. Doing these tasks on your own can lead to resentment of the ones you love. 

  • Make a list of who you want to catch up with this holiday season. Who are you wondering about? Think of people in your life that when you spend time with them it feels effortless and add them to your holiday plans. 

  • Rank the holiday traditions that are most important to each family member, to see if there is a task that is on your plate that doesn’t need to be there. If the tradition is stressful and isn’t meaningful to anyone, let’s skip it. 

  • Ensure you have a plan to step away from work completely. Create an out of office reply for messages that come your way and disconnect your phone from work email and calls. Connect your phone to the charger on silent and put it in a room that is away from the party, like your bedroom or office. 

  • Capture memories throughout the holiday season by taking pictures, creating crafts, and playing games. As a family at the end of the day, have each person share what they will remember about this day.

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