5 Ways to Handle Stress This Holiday Season

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Stress is a major health hazard. Health experts are still learning today how stress has an extreme physical and emotional effect.

“Whether the stress is positive or negative, the body responds the same way to both of them. If the body is exposed to too much positive or negative stress, it can become depleted, which is a very common theme during this time of year,” said Julienne McCulloch, exercise physiologist at Park City Medical Center.

Here are ways to help ourselves and loved ones have a healthy and happy holiday season – and limit the stress.

1- You have heard plenty about how exercise helps your body, your muscles, your cardiovascular system, etc. But it also helps out with your emotional state – so exercise of your brain.

“There are many different ways in which exercise impacts the brain. Research shows numerous ways in which exercise can help have a positive impact on mental illness and well-being. These impacts elevate the mood while decreasing the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression,” McCulloch said.

There is no specific exercise needed. Your brain responds to the rush of endorphins that is naturally released through any workout.

RELATED: Exercise and Mental Health

2- Laughter can be very therapeutic. Everyone has their own type of humor. So submerse yourself in it. Humor can be found in comic strips, cartoons, stand-up comedy, or your favorite funny television shows or movies.

It doesn’t have to be only in entertainment. Take comfort in the company of your family and friends and tell some jokes, rehash favorite memories, and share a laugh.

When you make a mistake, find the humor in it.  

3- Bring joy by helping others in need. It can be as simple as holding a door open to a grandiose gratitude such as donating your time or money.

It’s that moment of helping someone out that it can bring a quick smile to your face. Maybe the stress about that upcoming holiday party or finding the perfect gift is gone for a fleeting moment. 

4- Learn relaxation techniques that work for you as you need to give yourself a break. Yet it’s important to not find that stress relief through electronics.

“Many of us try relaxing by sitting in front of a TV or a computer. Even though this may feel like a relaxing activity, it is not physiologically reducing stress or relaxing the body. There are multiple ways to help the body reduce stress and experience higher levels of relaxation,” said McCulloch.

Relaxation tips include:

  • Deep breathing
  • Meditation
  • Massage
  • Guided imagery
  • Rhythmic exercise
  • Tai chi/qigong
  • Yoga

RELATED: Stress Relief Made Easy                                                                                                          


Sleep has to be a priority even when it may seem that there is not enough hours in the day. It can help lower blood pressure, relieve mental and physical fatigue, and build your immune system.

“Sleeping time gets snipped short as we burn the candle from both ends; leaving a short wick, a quick temper, and a get-sick risk,” said Julie Roberts, nurse practitioner for the Intermountain Healthcare LiVe Well Center at the Salt Lake Clinic.

Sleep deprivation is a serious health risk so find the time to sleep. For more information on getting help with sleep and hourly recommendations, visit Intermountain LiVe Well site.

Bottom line is don’t get too low or too high when it comes to stress during the holidays.