Managing Stress During the Holidays

Depending on who you are, there are times of the year that seem to be more stressful. Birthdays, beginning of school, and holidays are classic examples.

And while we tend to accept this as ‘it is what it is’, it doesn’t need to be.

Here are a few tactics can help nudge us to manage these stressful periods and begin to enjoy them, without the added anxiety:

  1. Contemplate the time you’re losing being stressed: we tend to see life as infinite. For many of us, we’ve always felt healthy and little has changed physically, so we haven’t been prompted to contemplate our finitude. From his book Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkman frames it as such, “We tend to speak about our having a limited amount of time. But it might make more sense, from Heidegger’s (German philosopher) strange perspective, to say that we are a limited amount of time. That’s how completely our limited time defines us.” When we accept that every moment is a part of us being lost, it may motivate us to question when we’re not at peace.
  2. Create an intention to be different ‘this time’: often the trigger for behaving differently is consciously intending to ‘be’ different. This may sound trite, but when you set an intention it’s like leaving a post-it on your subconscious. For example, for this holiday season, I’ll remind myself that the meaning of the holidays is anchored in gratitude for the people I love. If I short circuit this gratitude with unskillful behaviors, such as anxiety, I’ll distract from the energy I should be sharing with those I love.
  3. Be mindful when you stray off the path: we always have the potential to be triggered. As soon as we feel we have things under control, another larger dragon will remind us that there are always greater bogies around the corner. The goal isn’t to inoculate ourselves from the adverse events in life, it’s to notice when we get rocked before we find ourselves spending hours or even days ruminating and feeling stressed. And when feelings start to fester don’t get discouraged. As Lao Tzu reminds in Tao Te Ching, ‘the path into the light (at first) seems dark.’ And when faced with tough feelings to process we can follow Tara Brach’s advice in her acronym RAIN: recognize, accept or allow, investigate, and nurture the emotions.

And when in doubt…

Pause. Breathe, And Quiet the NOISE.


The heightened anxiety of the holiday period affects many of us. To give us a fighting chance at dealing with stress, we need to get a sound night’s sleep.  A wind down routine is an effective way to create the right atmosphere to doze off. Part of my routine is to have a Zero dB Focus+Calm at 6:30pm. Not only does it cue the end of my official workday, but it’s synergistic blend of botanicals leaves me with an overall air of calm. Think if it as a hard gap between work and life. This disconnect can be key for winding down.


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