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How to Deal With The Stress of the Holidays

santa-parade-3-1360205-1279x847I get it, the holidays can be stressful. Family may be in town, your finances may be draining, there’s an inherent pressure to be happy and there are numerous things to get done before the big celebrations.

You have to buy gifts, you have to make travel arrangements, you have to see people who are back in town and you have to do the rest of your chores and responsibilities with grace as if they weren’t already enough.

The point is, it seems as though the holiday season is ripe for opportunities to lose your grip.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, stress is like the light switch for my symptoms. Having lived with schizophrenia for ten years I’m no stranger to moments where things go haywire, I’ve even lost my grip on reality a few times.

Granted, your stress probably won’t get to that point but I think it’s wise to say that we could all use a little relief during this hectic time.

First and foremost, we have to remember to treat ourselves well. If that means taking a break and spending an evening with a good book or in front of Netflix so be it. It also wouldn’t do us any harm to take a nice hot shower or a walk around the neighborhood when things start to pile up. A good meal can also be extremely beneficial for good mental health. Suffice it to say that we all need to be kind to ourselves during the holidays and making sure to treat ourselves well is key in not getting overwhelmed.

Another huge way to unwind is to escape for a little bit if you need to. Family’s in town and I get how it can cause you a little bit of guilt to leave them on their own for an afternoon, or even a  whole day but if you need to escape, go to a movie or a coffee shop or to the park for a few hours, your family will be fine. They’ll respect that you’ve been able to set these boundaries for yourself and they may even thank you for letting them have their own space.

I know that when I have family in town I feel like I always have to be “on” and I have to show them a good time or impress them. Chances are, they feel exactly the same way. Whoever said a little afternoon escape in the midst of the busy holidays was a bad thing? If it’s needed, it’s needed.

Finally a guaranteed stress killer for the holidays is, and this might sound weird, but baking. It doesn’t even have to be baking, just have something you can focus on for a few hours that will have a pleasant result, it could be knitting, drawing, or writing but having a flow, having an outlet to channel your frustrations and getting a handle on the hectic stuff that’s going on is essential.

Be creative with whatever you want to do, finding that flow where hours seem like minutes can soothe even the worst of the holiday nerves.

These are good tools to have any day of the year but they also work extremely well during the holidays.

Until next year, good luck.

How to Deal With The Stress of the Holidays

Michael Hedrick

Michael Hedrick is a writer and photographer who has lived with schizophrenia since he was 20. His work has been featured in Salon, The Week, Scientific American and The New York Times. You can purchase his book 'Connections' here or Follow his blog on Living with Schizophrenia here.

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APA Reference
Hedrick, M. (2015). How to Deal With The Stress of the Holidays. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 8, 2020, from


Last updated: 15 Dec 2015
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