Tips to Avoid Stress Overload This Holiday Season


If the approaching holidays make you feel more tense than jolly, you are not alone, says May Institute’s Chief Psychologist Dr. Lauren Solotar. “Sometimes the additional ‘busy-ness’ of the holidays puts already stressed-out individuals into ‘stress overload.’”

Women are especially vulnerable to stress overload during the holiday season, according to Solotar. “A single mother who must work full-time to support her child/ren and also try to support school and extra-curricular activities may find that the additional responsibilities of the holidays – baking, parties, gift-buying, family dinners – are more than she can handle,” she says.

It is best to plan ahead to avoid stress and enjoy a happier holiday season. Solotar recommends that individuals see what they can subtract from their daily activities rather than what they can add. She offers the following tips:

  • It’s OK to say “no” to some requests – especially at this time of year.
  • Eliminate at least one holiday “to do” item from your list. Do you really have to bake four kinds of Christmas cookies?
  • Allow extra time for all activities.
  • Make a budget and stick to it.
  • Shop at off-peak hours; consider doing more shopping by mail and Internet.
  • Wrap gifts as soon as possible after purchasing them. Use gift bags.
  • Take a personal day to pamper yourself, sleep in, organize, shop, wrap, get a massage, or watch your favorite holiday video.
  • Practice moderation in eating and drinking. Try having a little something to eat before going out to holiday parties. It will help you eat and drink less.
  • Get enough sleep. Now is not the time to burn your candle at both ends!
  • If you become seriously depressed during the holiday season, seek professional help.
  • Make having fun more important than being perfect.

May Institute’s counseling centers in Walpole and West Roxbury offer caring, effective state-of-the-art emotional and psychological services for children, adolescents, and adults. Highly trained professionals provide specialized clinical care for key emotional and behavioral concerns including anxiety disorders, depression, eating disorders, women’s issues, and school and learning difficulties. For more information call 800-778-7601, or visit

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