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Five Expert Tips for Surviving Holiday Stress

Relieve the headache of shopping and traveling.

The winter holidays are the one time a year where you can take some time off work, see loved ones and just relax. But it can also be an incredibly pressure-packed period. How do you navigate your way through without going crazy? We tapped some experts to get their top tips for surviving holiday stress.

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Move Your Body

“The holiday season is often ripe with crossing off to-dos and making sure you’ve tackled all your responsibilities,” says Dr. Justin Ross, licensed clinical psychologist and Director of Workplace Wellbeing for UCHealth in Denver. “Movement often gets thrown around as a panacea for tackling stress and anxiety, and while that’s not entirely accurate, exercise is a vital pillar in well-being, particularly in that it has an immediate shift on our mood. So prioritize movement in your schedule and protect that time, not allowing for your to-do list to interfere; you’ll be amazed at the renewed energy you feel about tackling the next item after you’ve sweat.”

Spend Time in Nature

“Be sure to get outside and be active during the holidays,” says Dr. David Rosenbaum, a cardiologist at UCHealth Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs. “Physical activity is one of the best ways to help reduce stress.”

Ross adds: “Get out in nature, even if that means being exposed to cold, windy and wet conditions. A lot of research shows how important and powerful our connection to being in nature is for our overall health. That includes reducing stress and anxiety.”

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Schedule Quiet Time

“During this stressful pandemic and holiday season, be sure to have time to yourself to relax, meditate and appreciate all that we have,” says Rosenbaum.

Focus on Laughter

“We’ve all heard the saying, ‘laughter is medicine,’ and we’ve all experienced the profound impact that laughter has on our immediate well-being,” says Ross. “It’s also one of the hardest things to fake! So, ensure that this holiday season, you’re putting yourself—safely, mind you—in situations in which you feel connected and joyous. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.”

Adds Rosenbaum: “Try to enjoy your family and appreciate all that they are. But, like all things, family should be enjoyed in moderation.”

Nourish Your Body

“Don’t let your sleigh stray too far away from the veggie tray. Rudolph likes greens; you should too,” says Rosenbaum. “During this festive season, be sure to limit your alcohol consumption as too much can impair perception and judgment.”

Listen to Music

“One of the most underrated means of impacting our emotions is music,” said Ross. If you’ve grown sick of hearing that same holiday jingle for the 100th time, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So if you need a pick me up or stress buster, consider putting on your favorite artist or song.”