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Mitigating the Stress of the Holiday Season

By Dr. Molly Casey

How to Holiday Destress

Although the holidays for many are an exciting time of year, for many they are extraordinarily stressful. For some it may be a mixture of both. Even with the fun of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s comes an increased level of stress. Stress is the most common driver behind all doctor’s visits, stress makes all health issues worse, and stress is often the cause of many ailments. So let’s talk about mindset and techniques for you to stay centered and mitigate the stress throughout the holiday season.


Clarity is the first rule of success. How can one know they have succeeded at anything if they are not first clear on what it is they are trying to achieve? Clarify for yourself the point of the holidays. So often folks get swept away in the swirl of the energy of parties, gatherings, giving presents, eating food and imbibing simply because it exists. Parties are there, invitations are made, presents are the norm and drinks are had. Yet there really is no meaning behind it for many of the folks participating. It’s truly useless yet folks participate simply because “that’s what you do” this time of year. I call bologna.

Get clear on what you value about the season. If it’s gratitude and time with family, then own that and participate in events with that attitude. If it truly is the type of food or the gatherings that drive you, then commit to it and enjoy it. If you don’t care about the food but presents are your thing, then state it and do it up. Understand the reason for your season.

Be truthful to yourself about your goal for the holidays. Getting clear and owning this will dictate your level of success in staying grounded and mitigating the stress throughout the season.

Stick to the Basics

There are some basics that should be so ingrained in your daily life, I believe, that it is simply part of your existence. You’ve participated and engaged with these routines or practices so regularly you don’t have to think about them anymore. Make sure to continue on your regular chiropractic adjustment schedule. Routine chiropractic adjustments promote and allow proper nervous system function (optimal health of your communication system). Along with a whole host of other things, it will increase your ability to dump the extra toxins from holiday-related food and stress with greater ease and efficiency.

Keep your sleep as routine and high quality as possible. Yes, there may be a late night or two in which you don’t, but don’t make it a full season of late night parties.

As well, be sure to stay hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water, even if there is extra alcohol or pumpkin spice and peppermint lattes available.

When it comes to eating, remember to get clear on what you value about food and your own routines, then stick to that minimally 80 percent of the season.

Exercise is also crucial, especially when extra calories can’t be avoided; move your body and do it at the beginning of the day so there are no excuses, even if it is just for the holidays. It’s easier to bail on moving the body when work routines and your daily life schedule is totally out of whack, so get that out of the way first thing so there is no room to fail.


I certainly believe in moderation and want you to enjoy yourself outside of the normal routine that the holidays bring. Going head first with no parameters likely won’t work out the best. But this is not about restrictions, this is about fostering what makes you feel your best and being as healthy as possible.

Before setting parameters for yourself, go back to your mindset: What do you actually love about the season? Then have that determine your level of participation and set parameters from there.

Get clear what you love. If you hate the parties, assess which ones you’ll likely attend and why, then pare them down to something that feels more in line with your mindset and values for the season. If you love the grocery store sugar cookies with the crazy frosting, have them -- but not at every single party along with every other dessert that’s offered.

You get the point: determine what you value and then establish guidelines that meet those goals.

Relax and Restore

Have fun. Be sure to create time to lay low and rest. Yes, I said create because if you don’t the swirl of the season can be so intoxicating that you’re absolutely and thoroughly exhausted and run ragged before the season is even done. So create the time to lie around, read a book, watch a movie, take a nap or winter stroll. Take time to restore.

Nothing ever stays routine during the holidays. The lines alone will add to your stress. So stay centered through this season by taking control of your mindset and your view at the outset. Set yourself up for success by following through with the basics. As you create your holiday schedule parameters, see them as the guidelines to support the healthiest and best you. Stay centered, and stay connected to yourself and your journey of health.

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