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How to De-Stress in a Holiday Mess

Reviewed by Kimberly Cabe, FNP-BC of Forum Health Clarkston

When we were younger, the magic of Christmas could not be described. The lights, the excitement, family, and the spirit of giving to others…it’s all replaced with stress, holiday road rage, and the tick tock of a rushed clock. It feels like work now. We don’t look forward to work—we look forward to after work. And what do we do after work? De-stress, of course.

A Guide to De-Stressing!

  • (Duh) Plan Ahead:
    • Ask for Christmas lists early; before Thanksgiving early!
    • On December 1st, set your calendar to remind you to sit down and regroup; plan recipes, shopping, schedules, etc.
  • Essential Oils: When the holidays have you in a mood, lemon oil or any kind of citrus can be an uplifting touch. Diffuse it or just rub it in your hands and take a big whiff. I know it sounds strange, but it works. For times when you just need to wind down, lavender oil will put you at ease. When the lavender doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to bust out the frankincense. 
  • Yoga/Meditation: If you can’t get to yoga more than once per week, meditate on your own. Take as much time as you can and give this to yourself. There are guided meditations on Spotify, YouTube, and even Alexa (Amazon Echo) has a few to follow. It can be a minute or an hour—you choose.

You can be in a quiet room or driving in your car. You can chant, breathe, gaze, visualize…whatever puts you at peace. Meditation is about quieting the mind, soothing the spirit, and observing the breath and body. Everyone should meditate at least once per day. 

  • Sunlight: We take time to smell the roses, right? While there aren’t that many roses this time of year, there are rare gifts of sunlight. When those rays of natural light shine through your office or kitchen window, bask in them! It doesn’t matter where you are. Take a few minutes and stand under the rays. Close your eyes—unless you’re driving; bask with your eyes open, if you’re driving.


  • Be Grateful: The point is to take a minute to be grateful. You’re alive. You have a family to love and love you in return, even though they’re stressing you out at the moment. You have breath in your lungs and sun on your face. Be grateful!
  • Walk/Jog: Try a nice, 30 minute, wintry stroll to bring balance to your heart, body, and soul. Bring a loved one, hold hands, talk about your day. Do you want to be alone? That’s fine, too. Studies have shown that 30 minutes per day of walking or running can tranquilize the brain, improve sleep, and decrease anxiety. 
  • Squeeze: There’s a fleshy part between your thumb and index finger. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s called the hoku spot. Applying firm pressure there for 30 seconds can reduce stress and tension in your upper body. So, when we find ourselves getting honked at by an angry driver with her car dressed up like Rudolph, or when an angry man is yelling at the poor cashier at Macy’s, let’s all stop, squeeze our hokus for 30 seconds, and breathe. We’ll all report back to each other next year.
  • Keep Your Schedule: Is there something that you do every week that makes you happy? Art class, book club, massage, nail salon, yoga class, cycle, lunch with a friend? Don’t skip it. Keep that on your schedule, locked and loaded. If it’s something that makes you happy, this is the time of year to make sure you keep that plan.
  • Volunteer/Donate: Do what you can for others. You don’t need to be wealthy. There’s always someone worse off than you. Give. Love. Share what you can. Donate to Toys for Tots or a food drive. Purchase one of those already made up $5 or $10 bags at a local grocery store. If you can, get a group together to sponsor a family in need. Sign your family up to help out at the Baldwin Center and serve food to the hungry. Do something—anything—and you will find your Christmas spirit.
  • Put the Freaking Phone Down: Leave your phone upstairs, turn it off, step away. This is the only way you can be in the moment and spend the precious holiday time with family.
  • Be Good to Your Body: It matters, all the time, what we put in our bodies. Food doesn’t just affect our midsections. It affects our overall health, including our moods. Whether you realize it or not, sugar seems to be the biggest culprit when it comes to the holiday blues. Pay attention after you indulge in that wine, those cookies and frosting, that fudge, or those little chocolate delights. Remember that you get one body. Be conscious of everything you’re putting into it, even this time of year.

Be Good to Yourself and the Holiday Season Will Be Good to You and Yours! Remember that you have more than others and be grateful. But take the time to be good to yourself, too. Check in with your mind, body, and soul every day, and enjoy your holiday season. After all, it only comes once a year!