Natural Solutions for Holiday Stress

Keep the season joyous and your holiday stress-free with these simple strategies.

holiday stress

Listening to soothing music and sharing your anxiety with a loved one are also great ways to reduce holiday stress.

© Carolyn Franks |

Most of us know from personal experience that the holidays can be as much a stressful time as one of comfort and joy. The majority of Americans stress over at least some aspects of the season. The gifts, parties, travel, and family—or perhaps the absence of these things—can make the holidays overwhelmingly stressful or sad.

Health Consequences of Stress

Chronic or excessive stress has substantial damaging impacts on physical and mental health. It causes maladaptation of the body’s primary stress response system—the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis—which then disrupts metabolism; immune, nervous system, and hormonal function; and more.

Chronic stress can also trigger or exacerbate depression and anxiety, emotional eating, weight gain, and addictive behaviors.

Eliminate Stressors

The two basic rules for dealing with stress are to reduce your exposure to stressors when possible and to take active steps to help yourself handle the inevitable stress you can’t control. Below, in our “Top 13 Holiday Stressors” chart, we list common causes of holiday stress points.

holiday stressors

So which holiday stressors affect you, and which ones can you eliminate? Here are some examples:

holiday stress

  • Too much to do? Choose wisely, plan, prioritize, and delegate, but, most of all, remember that it’s okay to say “no.”
  • Can’t afford it? Set a budget, pool resources to buy group gifts, draw names from a hat, or give handmade gifts or the gift of time.
  • Be realistic. You’ll only be disappointed if you don’t keep your expectations realistic and focus on what’s really important to you.
  • Lonely? If you don’t have family or friends to be around, attend local holiday concerts or community events, see if any co-workers are without holiday plans and have a potluck, or spend your time giving to someone else in need by volunteering. If you are far from family, try creative ways to connect like videos or Skype.
  • Hate crowds? Shop online and have it delivered to your door.
  • Difficult family? Let arguments go, walk away, take a break, and practice acceptance and non-criticism. Of course, if your family is truly abusive or unhealthy for you, decline spending time with them.

Practice Relaxation

For the stressors that you can’t avoid, try stepping back and relaxing. There are hundreds of relaxation techniques and dozens of stress-reducing lifestyle practices that you can choose from. Some examples:

  • Download free, short, guided meditation, progressive relaxation, deep breathing, or guided imagery exercises.
  • Try to maintain a regular exercise schedule.
  • Schedule some bodywork or energy work.
  • Take a short, brisk walk or do some yoga poses.
  • Support your adrenal glands by taking a B-complex vitamin and vitamin C.
  • Carry healthy snacks that include protein, like nuts, to keep your blood sugar levels stable and help prevent cravings.
  • Practice mindfulness, kindness, or humor.
  • Notice the sights and sounds around you, call an old friend, or take deep breaths.

Take a Natural Chill Pill

If all else fails and you need some immediate stress relief, you can always take a natural chill pill—an herbal extract or natural supplement with quick-acting anti-anxiety effects. Three of our favorites for quick relaxation without sedation are:

  • L-theanine (200 mg)
  • Kava kava root extract (standardized to 30% kavalactones; 250 mg)
  • GABA (250 mg)

By identifying the holiday stressors that are specific, personal triggers for you, and by using some practical strategies and natural healing techniques, you may even find peace and joy in this year’s holiday season.

Originally published in 2015 and updated.

As a service to our readers, University Health News offers a vast archive of free digital content. Please note the date published or last update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

View all posts by UHN Staff

Comments Comments Policy

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Enter Your Login Credentials
This setting should only be used on your home or work computer.