Tips for a Stress-free Holiday from Ohio State’s STAR Program

Special thanks to Dr. Ken Yeager from The OSU Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program for providing his insight with tips to help us stay stress free this holiday season.

Take time to breathe. If we don’t remember to breathe we can get overwhelmed during the holidays. This can raise stress and tension, increase cortisol levels and heart rate, cause GI disturbances and have a number of other negative consequences to our wellbeing.

• Adjust your expectations. Much of the stress around the holidays comes from the expectations we assume our families place on us. Let go of self-imposed expectations and be wise with how you invest your energies around relatives.

• Simplify your meals. If paper plates make your life easier, use them. Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be served on fine china. The strongest memories people often have of their childhood Christmas’ are the simple foods that mom made, not extravagant dishes that take a lot of time and energy.

• Take time to remember. For some, the stress of the holidays comes from the pain thinking about lost loved ones. Dr. Yeager suggests telling stories about loved ones so their memory can live on. Lighting candles or taking wreathes to their graves are just a couple of the ways families can remember those are no longer physically with them.

• Give gifts from the heart. Don’t make yourself more stressed out by budgeting more than you can afford for holiday gifts. The art of giving is about knowing someone’s unique likes, not about how many presents you can afford to purchase. If you have a large family to buy for, consider adopting the tradition of a gift lottery, where everyone gets one gift and the emphasis is placed on celebrating the family.

• Pace yourself. Online shopping and extended hours can help you avoid hustle and bustle associated with shopping around the holidays. Don’t stay on your feet too long. Even if you are hosting the party, take time to enjoy your friends and family.

Still feeling stressed out? Remember to get enough sleep, be careful with your amount of alcohol consumption and remember to take time to enjoy those around you. The holidays should be about fun.

Learn more about OSU’s Star Program:


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