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5 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

5 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

For many people, the holiday season is something that they look forward to all year. The holidays can be an exciting and fun time with families gathering, decorating, special activities, cooking and shopping. For others, the holidays can be a source of stress, can cause an increase in anxiety, and may increase the intensity of depressive symptoms.

Below are some ways that one can help reduce the potential negative impact of the holiday season:

1.) Plan Ahead: If you have been negatively impacted by holiday stress, anxiety and/or depression in the past, it is likely that you may face similar symptoms in the future. Take some time before the holidays to reflect on the past and work on putting some steps in place to reduce the impact of this holidays. If planning for a large group in your home has caused you anxiety, perhaps enlist assistance of a friend or relative to assist in the planning. Splitting up the responsibilities will likely reduce the burden that you are feeling.

2.) Set Realistic Expectations: Many people want to ensure that each year’s celebration is better than the previous year. Instead of partaking in a competition for best party ever, create a list of traditions that are meaningful and enjoyable and incorporate these items. Set realistic expectations for yourself and enjoy!

3.) Minimize Conflict and Resolve Differences: Most families and groups of friends have some unresolved conflict or differences from the past. For those groups that only gather once a year, the holidays end up being a time for these conflicts or differences to reappear and cause issues and discomfort. Make this the year that you resolve differences, agree to disagree, or leave the past in the past. This will help you to enjoy the friends and family time without the stress and anxiety associated with conflicts.

4.) Money: Everyone knows that money can be a significant cause of stress, anxiety and depression. Holiday gift giving often can get out of hand. Instead of causing yourself financial challenges, consider ways to stay within a budget. Some ideas include – having a holiday exchange where everyone is responsible for buying one person a gift, giving a homemade gift, or collectively giving to charity in the name of a friend or relative.

5.) Take Care of Yourself: It is very easy to overindulge during the holidays and to abandon your exercise routine. Eating too much, drinking too much and reducing exercise can all cause stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. Try to focus on moderation during the holidays.

If you need additional assistance, a professional therapist or counselor can assist you before, during and after the holidays. They are trained and highly skilled in working with individuals, couples or families who are dealing with stress, anxiety or depression.


Dr. Lena Pearlman is a licensed therapist in Creve Coeur, Missouri (a St. Louis suburb). She is the clinical director of Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates. Her team of eight therapists provide therapy and counseling services to children, teens, and adults. Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates can be reached by phone at: 314-942-1147, by email at: or online at:








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