35 Ways to Stay Calm & Stress-Free This Holiday Season

Practice these calming strategies to stay mindful and stress-free this holiday season.

November 24, 2017
Pensive man
Image courtesy of g-stockstudio/Getty Images

Between shopping for everyone on your list and hosting family and friends for the holidays, the season is filled with stress-inducing activities. 

But by practicing these calming strategies, you can easily stay mindful and stress-free this holiday season. 

Handing off flowers
Image courtesy of robbreece/Getty Images
Pay it forward

Give back to others and relieve yourself of built-up stress. Whether it’s donating your unwanted clothes, or just holding the door for someone, spreading a little cheer this holiday season will help improve your own emotional health. 

Check out these 50 Ways to Pay it Forward This Holiday Season for more ideas!

Women jogging
Image courtesy of Hero Images/Getty Images
Get some exercise

Whether it’s doing a few laps around your neighborhood or doing some yoga in the living room, getting some exercise in will not only have you feeling healthier, but will boost your mood, as well. Studies have shown that just a quick workout can have great mental health benefits, and that’s exactly what we could use come the stressful holiday season. 

Herbal arrangement
Image courtesy of Westend61/Getty Images
Go herbal

Herbs like St. John’s wort, lavender oil, L-theanine, valerian root, and kava have been proven anxiety and depression fighters. Add them to your daily menu (in teas or in smoothies), and enjoy the calming benefits. 

Woman snacking on chocolate
Image courtesy of Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images
Snack on some chocolate

Yes, you read that correctly. Now don’t go too wild with the cocoa bites, but a few bits of chocolate can actually help to improve cognitive function and will help you focus better on the activities around you. 

Happy couple
Image courtesy of PeopleImages/Getty Images

As you gather together with family and friends, make it a point to just laugh. Not only does it lighten the mood, but it has been proven to lower your blood pressure, which will immediately reduce the production of stress hormones. 

Go for the omega-3s

The popular supplements have actually shown to be powerful depression-fighting powerhouses. Choose these best sources of omega-3 fats to get the most brain benefits (and heart and inflammation boosts, too!). 

couple bed romance
Head to the bedroom

A little knocking boots can make you a much more chipper person throughout the season. In fact, using these 30-second love plays for a better sex life, you can not only boost your sex hormones, but also increase your mood. 

winter blues
Fight seasonal affective disorder (SAD) head on.

Shorter days, less sunlight, and colder weather all contribute to seasonal affective disorder, but by pinpointing what’s getting you down, and taking care of your body, you can work to fight the most depressing days of the year

Woman with SADs light
Image courtesy of Rocky89/Getty Images
Try light therapy

Since we’re seeing less sunlight ever since Daylight Savings Time, a 2011 Dutch study showed that using light therapy could significantly improve people’s moods during the darker winter months. 

vitamin d capsules
Add some vitamin D to your diet

Since you’re not getting adequate vitamin D from sunlight, try supplementing with other tactics. A study published in Medical Hypotheses shows that SAD is also linked to a vitamin D deficiency, so use this vitamin D cheat sheet to find out what you need to know before taking the supplement. 

belly breathing
Do a belly breathing exercise

Try this simple, 5-step powerful breathing process to help prevent a panic reaction and combat stress when anxiety and fear are present. 

Try coloring

It’s not just for kids. Help fight stress by reaching for a crayon instead and start coloring on the regular to get the calming and centering effects you need. Get started with these downloadable coloring pages.

couple conversation coffee
Let go of grudges and forgive

Don’t stress over family issues or long-standing feuds. Instead, consider forgiving those who have wronged you over the years and let go of resentments—it’ll lower your own stress when having to see them over the holidays. 

clean kitchen island
Clean your home

So you’re not extra overwhelmed and leaving all of the household tasks until days before the guests arrive, make it a point to declutter your kitchen and the rest of your home in the weeks before hosting to make sure it’s not all a last-minute project. 

Watch the drinks

While it might be easy to get carried away with specialty holiday cocktails, watch the intake. The more you drink, the harder the hangover, and save yourself the next-morning pains by cutting back on the liquid fun. If you do overindulge, try these tips for a quicker recovery.

Cup of tea with flowers
Image courtesy of Almaje/Getty Images
Reach for sanity-saving foods

Yes, there are Christmas foods that will improve your mood (and not damage your dieting plans). Reach for these 7 foods to stop a holiday meltdown to really get the mental benefits. 

Man doing yoga
PeopleImages/Getty Images
Start doing yoga

Science has proven that yoga works to reduce cortisol, giving you the zen feeling you’re really craving. Just try these 5 stress-reducing poses to start and calm your body and your mind in just one flow. 

businesswoman walking outside
Try mindful walking

No equipment needed for this stress-busting move. Just… move! Try mindful walking and leave stress way behind you as you start your steps. 

woman meditating
Try a beginner meditation

If you’ve never meditated before, now’s the time to hop on the trend! Start out with this simple meditation exercise for beginners that’ll get you started on your mind-calming journey. 

meditating by lake
Move on to a visualization meditation

“This meditation aims to focus your thoughts so that your mind does not wander,” says Scott Carney, author of What Doesn’t Kill Us. “Your mind will use less energy if it can focus on only one thing, and will allow you to go deeper into the physical experience of meditation.” 

jillian pransky deep listening
Then, try a heart-opening exercise

Stop, take a breath, be in the moment, and try this heart-opening meditation experience from Jillian Pransky, yoga instructor and author of Deep Listening

Woman meditating
Image courtesy of Kai Wiechmann/Getty Images
Give guided imagery scenarios a chance

“Guided imagery is a powerful tool to help you reconnect with optimism, positive thoughts, and all the ways in which your body is working well,” says David M. Brady, NC, author of The Fibro Fix. Kick off the practice with these 5 scenarios that’ll give you a mental escape. 

Woman with child in field
Image courtesy of Deux/Getty Images
Appreciate nature

Nature has an incredible power to calm us, and just a few moments outside can refocus your thoughts and shift past the regular daily stress. Make it a point to take some time in your day, head outside, and just look out onto the nature around you

Women fingerpainting
Image courtesy of Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch/Getty Images
Get creative

If you’re looking for a creative hobby, try pottery, painting, drawing, playing music, or anything else that’ll help you channel your creativity into something productive. You’ll be surprised at how effectively it’ll work as a stress-management technique. Can’t get started? Here are 6 hacks to help.

Woman performing breathing exercise
Image courtesy of PhotoAlto/John Dowland/Getty Images
Try this 15-second breath exercise

Center yourself using this 15-second breath exercise from The School of Greatness author Lewis Howes. Not only will it help you connect with your mind, but it’ll help you get more in tune with your own love. 

Ecstatic woman wearing headphones
Image courtesy of Images By Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images
Play some music

Get calm with some tunes that promote positive thinking. Just turn on this meditation playlist that’ll elevate your state of mind to get centered once again. 

Be grateful for what you do have

If you’re feeling frazzled and stressed, paying attention to the things you’re grateful for can help wash all of the tension away. 

Try tai chi and qigong

These very simple movements may look like they’re just slowed-down regular flows, but they’re much more powerful than that. Tai chi and qigong have incredible benefits that promote overall well-being, from your mind to your body. 

woman relaxing bath tub
Guido Mieth/Getty Images
Make yourself a spa day

No need to spend hundreds of dollars on a spa package at a swanky salon. You can get the same benefits (at a fraction of the cost) right at home. Try these 8 steps to a relaxing mini-spa day at home from Balancing in Heels author Kristin Cavallari for a much-needed treat yo’ self day that will reconnect you back with your body. 

woman relaxing at home with dog
Tom Merton/Getty Images

Put down your phone! It may seem impossible—especially these days when we’re constantly refreshing our feeds or checking our work email. But you’ll be surprised at how connected we are to our devices, and how they instantly shift our moods. This season, make it a point to put the phone away, take some time for yourself, and unplug from work.

woman sleeping bed
baona/Getty Images
Improve your sleep

Make sure you’re sleeping consistently and well throughout the night, just try these 50 tricks to sleep better tonight to get started. Getting enough zzz’s throughout the nighttime hours can mean better productivity and happiness in the daytime. 

Stop toxic thinking

“I coined the term viral beliefs to reflect the toxic effects of negative beliefs,” says Steve Sisgold, author of Whole Body Intelligence. “Like ineffective, corrupting agents that sicken our bodies, viral beliefs sicken the mind and negatively impact behavior.” Instead, take steps to stop toxic thinking in its tracks to have a better body-mind conversation. 

Man breaking cigarette
Image courtesy of alexvav/Getty Images
Ditch the cigarettes

If you think they calm you down, you’re in for a surprise. A 2010 study in the journal Addiction shows that heavy smokers who went tobacco-free actually reported lower levels of stress than when they were addicted. These exercises can help you quit.

Hot winter cocoa
Image courtesy of Saksoni/Getty Images
Quit the caffeine

Yes, coffee improves your energy and generally can help to keep you awake when you’re struggling to keep your eyes open, but it can also dehydrate you, increase your anxiety, and mess with your sleep. 

Wallet with cash
Image courtesy of Tetra Images/Getty Images
Make smart money choices

At the time of the year when spending is at a high, don’t be afraid to keep a strict budget. That way, you won’t be even more stressed out when the credit card bills arrive in the new year. Use these anti-ripoff tips to not stress over your bottom line this winter.

See Next