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MSD Nurses Offer Techniques to Make Holidays More Joyful

The holiday season can be a time of joy with friends and family, but it can also be stressful for many people. Stress is not only uncomfortable in the moment, but prolonged stress can also cause high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, heart disease and digestive problems. Other common symptoms of prolonged high stress include headaches, depression, aggressive behavior and low energy.

Learning specific techniques to manage stress more effectively can help lower stress and improve your readiness to respond to stressful situations. While you cannot always control the causes of your stress, you can control the way you react to the stress.

Things that can help

  • Track your stress 

    Track it!

  • Identify the sources of your stress

    Is your stress caused by family conflict? Money concerns? Work problems? The holidays? Loneliness?

  • Is your stressor something important?

    If the stressor is not something important to you, try to let it go.

  • Can you control what’s causing stress?

    Focus on what you can change.

  • Practice mindfulness regularly


  • Practice deep breathing

    • Start by sitting down in a comfortable place that’s free from distraction. Uncross your legs, put both feet on the floor, and rest your hands in your lap. Pay attention to how this position feels and let your mind and body just “be” for a few moments.
    • Close your eyes and notice the pattern of your breath as you inhale and exhale. 
    • Now hold your breath for 5 seconds after you inhale, and for another 5 seconds after you exhale.
    • Breathe naturally for a moment. 
    • Now say, “Relax” silently or aloud after each time you exhale. 
    • Repeat this exercise for 1 to 5 minutes
  • Be physically active

  • Plan pleasant activities

    Research has shown that the things we do affect the way we feel. When you spend time in activities that you find relaxing, enjoyable, or just plain fun, you tend to feel happier and less stressed.

  • More tips for managing stress

    More ideas