GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The holidays are “the most wonderful time of the year.” We catch up with family, friends, acquaintances, neighbors. We have parties, decorate, shop, attend concerts and church events, and often much, much more. Unfortunately, this wonderful time can be draining. Dr. Ron DeVries from Pine Rest shares seven tips to help us enjoy more and stress less this season.

1. Acknowledge the busyness of the time of year. 

For many, the holiday fun and festivities can also be a very stressful time of the year. First, remember not all stress is bad. Stress does increase performance, but only up to a point. Stress management is the key to coping effectively and getting through holiday stress.

2. Courageously practice saying “no” and give yourself permission for self-care.

Remember, you and your time, money, and emotional/psychological/social needs matter and are important. Our culture tends to encourage exhaustion “keep going, keep working, keep giving” – these are the messages that drain us in the holidays. It takes courage to buck the trend and exercise your “NO” muscle. When we take care of ourselves, we have more to give. We give out of fullness, not exhaustion.

3. Take moments for yourself every day.

It can feel selfish to take time to relax. Yet good stress management requires daily intentional down time. And when we give to ourselves, we have more to give to others. Set aside time (it can be just 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes) to reflect, pray, relax, take a walk, read, do nothing, even watch Netflix (but contain the binge watching, I know it is so tempting).

Make room every morning and evening for daily quiet time. Reflecting on our place in this world is very powerful and can motivate us to give and connect with others.

4. Make sleeping, eating nutritious food and exercise a priority.

It’s tempting to sacrifice hours of sleep day after day to take on more holiday projects and attend every holiday festivity, fill up on cookies and treats, and ditch your regular workout routine during the holidays. However, these three activities are foundational to your ability to manage the holiday stress. See tip number two.

5. Savor the season.

This time of year, there are so many sights, sounds, smells and tastes to enjoy. The good news…you have full permission to completely dive in and enjoy them completely! Research suggests that focusing our attention in this way (also known as mindfulness) helps us to truly relax.

6. Moderate your expectations.

Yes, healthy living includes moderating eating and drinking. Too much sugar, too much alcohol adds to our exhaustion. However, think about moderating your expectations of the season and yourself. Striving for perfection is exhausting. Instead, strive for “good enough” instead of stressing out to create the “perfect” tree, perfect meal, perfect presents.

Also, think about moderating your use of electronic devices. Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms are wonderful ways of connecting to others. But all the “perfection” other people post can make us feel like we aren’t good enough.

7. Connect with others.

Remember that the real purpose of the holidays is to connect with your loved ones, your friends and God. As human beings, we need to love and be loved. So as you’re making your holiday plans, focus on how your activities can help you make emotional connections. The more intimacy we have, the more resilient we are.

For more information about stress and stress management, visit

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