Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday

For some people, the holiday season can be an exciting and special time of year. But for others, the holidays can bring up negative feelings, including stress, anxiety or sadness.

Here are a few tips to help put your mental health first and keep yourself centered and stress-free through the holiday season:

Embrace Saying “No”

Sometimes there truly isn’t enough time to do all the things we’d like to do. Prioritize the tasks and activities that are most important to you and your family, and say no to things that may cause unnecessary stress.

Start Your Morning Right

For many people, the holidays bring lots of added sugar and other unhealthy dietary choices that can affect their mood. Start your day with a healthy breakfast to fill you up, and pack healthy snacks for your car or office so you have healthy options on hand.

Find Consistency

It’s easy to get thrown off your usual routine during the holidays. Added activities, events and travel might make it hard to stick to your usual calming habits. Find a part of your day to keep consistent no matter where you are, whether it’s reading for 20 minutes before bed time, enjoying a calming cup of tea or taking a short walk outside.

Give Back

While the holidays mean family time for some, it can also bring a sense of loneliness to those who aren’t close with family or who live far from their loved ones. Volunteering for a local non-profit is a great way to give back while meeting new people and creating a sense of community.

Embrace Your Feelings

For those who have experienced loss, the holidays can take on a different meaning and bring sadness and grief. Grief is an important part of healing, and it’s important to embrace those feelings and not ignore them or hide them. Finding new traditions to enjoy while incorporating the memory of the loved one who has passed can help provide healing. 

Let Go of Perfection

Some people feel pressure around the holidays to be the perfect cook, give the perfect gift or have the perfect decorations. To keep stress at a minimum, embrace the activities and tasks you enjoy and let go of the rest.

Is it more than stress?

While it’s normal to experience some stress during the holiday season, it shouldn’t interfere with your daily life. Here are some signs of depression or anxiety that can affect your overall health:

  • Trouble concentrating or making decisions; memory problems
  • Change in sleeping habits, whether it be insomnia or sleeping too long
  • Angry outbursts or extreme frustration
  • Sudden loss of interest in favorite activities
  • Change in appetite, including a loss of appetite or extreme overeating
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide (those with thoughts of suicide should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 9-1-1)

If you or a loved one is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it may indicate a mental health issue that requires more support or treatment.

McLaren Bay Region offers comprehensive behavioral health care, including an inpatient behavioral health unit and an outpatient Adult Partial Hospitalization Psychiatric (PHP) program. The PHP program is the first of its kind in the Great Lakes Bay Region, providing a short-term day treatment program for adults with acute behavioral health symptoms.

To learn more about the program or how to get a referral, call (989) 667-6231 or visit For a list of outpatient psychiatry services, please call 1-877-411-2762.