5 Tips to Help Manage Holiday Stress

keeping decorations simple around the holidays can prevent stress
Picture of Lauren Hays

Lauren Hays

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, PMHNP

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5 Tips to Help Manage Holiday Stress

Silent night? Yeah right!  All is merry and… blue?  We’ve got you, mama!  We’re sharing helpful ways for coping with holiday stress that you can implement today.


Holidays are a time many of us feel stressed. Between the presents, the food, family gatherings, time with friends, and the expectations, it’s easy to let overwhelm dim the joy. But don’t worry – we’ve got some tried and true tips to de-stress so that you can enjoy this holiday season and soak in the real stuff.

Value shift so you don't lose sight of what's important.

Shift your values to prioritize what truly matters and embrace the joyous spirit of the season. Instead of societal expectations, focus on love-based values on your priority list that offer mental health benefits and allow you to recharge in the present moment. Let go of materialism and the pursuit of status, and concentrate on activities that bring you genuine joy, regardless of how they may appear on social media. For instance, if matching, monogrammed PJ’s bring you joy, embrace them wholeheartedly! Alternatively, explore new traditions that fulfill your cup and bring you mental well-being. Remember, there’s no need to compare or keep up with someone else’s way of celebrating. Make this holiday season about your own happiness and being present in the moment.

Choose a theme to avoid burnout and reduce financial stress.

Choose a word or theme to focus on for the holiday.  Maybe it’s tradition and you’re going to focus on laying a foundation of holiday traditions for your kiddos to always remember.  Maybe it’s generosity or providing and you’re going to focus on giving to others by adopting a family or volunteer at your local shelter and teaching your family the power of giving to others. Whatever you choose, allow it to guide your holiday decisions, free of expectations from others in other areas.  Reducing the tasks on our never ending to-do list is key to managing mental health and wellbeing.  Prioritize the traditions that stick with your theme!

Set boundaries!  Remember it's ok to say 'No.'

Do the endless gifts and gadgets drive you mad? Do the expectations for a perfect five course meal served piping hot steal the joy from your day? Are you steering away from what matters to you and your partner to meet expectations of others?

Clarify your boundaries and communicate those without hesitation. Maybe this year you’re going to cater that meal you despise cooking over all day or request a potluck. Or perhaps you’re going to set a three toy limit on Christmas gifts or request an “experience” versus more gadgets. Maybe you prefer to do Christmas morning at home with your kids and you’re willing to travel on other days or maybe you need to reduce the number of holiday gatherings altogether.

Whatever it may be, protect your sanity by putting healthy, flexible boundaries in place. Nodding yes but wondering how to set those boundaries? Here are our tips for setting boundaries.  Just remember it’s perfectly ok to say, ‘no thank you.’

Add breathwork to your anxiety arsenal to reduce stress and depression.

“Take a deep breath” can be annoying advice when your stress and anxiety have you on a leash. Instead of going for that early afternoon cocktail to reel it back in, take back the control by learning quick and effective deep breathing exercises.

Breathwork is a powerful tool that can bring your physiologic body back to a state of calm when you feel overwhelmed, after only a few moments of focusing inward (and it can be done in the comfort of your in-law’s basement!). We’ve all heard of box breathing which is a common exercise (inhale through the nose for 4, hold for 4, exhale through the mouth for 4) and effective at restoring balance. Sharing my go-to healthy habits in the members only holiday resilience guide. Learn more about the exclusive resources in our motherhood community.

Practice gratitude to promote mindfulness.

The stress of the holiday season and the perceived expectations of mamas to do it all and make it look pretty can make small stressors seem like really big problems. Some of the most amazing people I have met are those who have faced life-changing circumstances who are living life through a lens of gratitude. Gratitude for every single day. Every single breath. Every single memory. Somewhere amidst the chaos, we lose sight of what is important: our families, the memories being made, the magic of the season through the lens of a child. Practicing gratitude throughout the season can help us press the reset button on the chaos that drives stress and allow us to be grateful for the only things that truly matter at the end of the day and the small joys that light us up. Whether it be our health, another day with our aging mamas, or that warm cup of coffee snuggled up next to your dimple-knuckled baby by the fire. That’s the good stuff, mama.  Building stress resilience is critical (always) but especially so during the holiday season. By implementing some of the tips we’ve provided to cope with stress, you’ll be on your way to enjoying all that the holidays have to offer without allowing overwhelm to take lead. So release the tension in your shoulders, put down your phone, and enjoy time with your loved ones. And remember, when those stressful situations arise this holiday season, our team at The Matrescence is always here to support your mental wellness. We hope these simple self-care tips help you with managing stress during the most wonderful time of the year!

Focus on what’s really important this holiday season by staying true to your values, setting boundaries, and practicing gratitude. You’ll be able to keep stress and overwhelm at bay and improve your mental health so you can enjoy the holidays.

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Picture of Lauren Hays, PMHNP

Lauren Hays, PMHNP

Lauren was a licensed and trained registered nurse in the NICU and has since made a career shift to focus on mental health. Lauren is now a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, focusing on women’s health and wellness. She is a mom of three precious little men who has turned her pain into passion.

mother with eyes closed pressing her face up against her infant to calm her anxious feelings

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