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Kendal at Oberlin Blog

4 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

Posted by Molly Kavanaugh on Dec 16, 2015 9:00:00 AM

Written by: Molly KavanaughCouple-in-Kendal-pool.jpg

What do you cherish about the holidays, and what could you skip?

What tradition makes you smile, and what causes sleepless nights?

You can’t wait for what to happen?

You can’t wait for what to be over?

Your answers probably vary year to year, depending on your age, health and family circumstances, along with the joys and sorrows of the previous 12 months.

So take inventory of your status, and make plans to reduce stress this holiday season.

In general, be realistic about your plans, and that means physically, emotionally and financially.

Just because in years past you baked five different holiday cookies doesn’t mean you are obligated to continue.  Before you say “yes,” whether to family, church or community, consider a “maybe” and take a day to think about it.  

Beyond the basics, take these 4 steps to reducing stress.

Go Outside

Nothing like a walk in the woods or along the beach to clear the chatter of your to-do list.  Research shows that being in nature reduces stress and depression, according to Richard Louv, author of “The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age.”

And it’s a great opportunity for intergenerational interaction.

“Boomers could be the last generation to remember a time when it was considered normal and expected for children to play in woods and fields. Reconnecting the young to the natural world (as we reconnect ourselves) could be our greatest, most redemptive cause,” Louv writes.

Don’t let cold weather discourage you. Bundle up and head to a park or nature preserve. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has converted 21,000 miles of unused rail corridors into public spaces for year-round biking, running and walking. Find a trail near you.  

In Ohio, the Buckeye Trail loops around the entire state. The trail is nearly 1,500 miles long, with couple dozen sections.

Too ambitious? Just head out your door and explore the neighborhood.

Solo Date

Julia Cameron introduced the idea of going on an “artist date” in her bestseller “The Artist’s Way.”

The idea, to take a couple of hours or more and go on an excursion – think “play date” – by yourself might just be what you need before or after family gatherings, office parties and other social engagements.

Put your solo date on the calendar, just like all the other holiday happenings, and don’t let others - or yourself - make you feel guilty for taking time to be alone.

Think fun. Stop in an art store or vintage clothes shop.

Think outside of the box.  Explore an ethnic neighborhood or attend an unfamiliar church.

Think of it as a much-deserved break. The change of scenery is likely to make you and your loved ones feel better.

Only have 15 minutes to spare? According to the Mayo Clinic, that might be enough to refresh you and restore calm.


Show yourself some Tender Loving Care this holiday season.  

  • A candlelight bath soaking in lavender salts with a cup of tea or a glass of wine.
  • A massage, facial or pedicure.
  • Making an early night of it, sleeping in late, or spending the morning reading in bed.
  • A comfort food meal.
  • A feel-good or sentimental movie.
  • An outing or overnight with your best friend.
  • A leisurely afternoon at the gym.
  • Attending a holiday concert.

And consider helping your loved one find some TLC too, a stress-buster for both of you.

Watch What you Eat

It’s easy to fall into bad eating habits during the holidays. Too many sweets, too many alcoholic drinks, too much food and drink period, can make us anxious, blue and disrupt our sleep.

Eat healthy snacks before heading out, and drink plenty of water before and during the gathering. Along with alcohol, avoid excess caffeine.

To reduce stress, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine advocates eating lots of fruits and vegetables, along with foods that are low-fat, high-fiber, carbohydrate-rich.

Holiday Giving for Older Adults

Molly-K.jpgWritten by: Molly Kavanaugh


Topics: Healthy Aging

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