Sometimes all the hustle and bustle of the holidays can bring on feelings of stress, disappointment or loneliness. The “holiday blues” are a normal reaction to the commotion of the holidays and to the dizzying changes to daily routines.

Lisa Jobe-Shields, assistant professor of clinical studies in the University of Richmond Department of Psychology, shares tips to manage stress this holiday season.

Engage in active relaxation

Watching television and eating junk food can be fun but won’t really help you destress. Stretching, taking a bath, exercising, reading, baking or walking are activities that focus on self-care and also will help you relax.

Plan small

Make your plans in advance and be realistic. Try to schedule time to see the people most important to you and allow yourself to say no to commitments that don’t fit in with your plans.

Acknowledge your emotions

The “holiday blues” are a common occurrence, as well as experiencing mixed emotions such as happy and stressed; nostalgic and sad; loved and lonely.

Indulge with restraint

To avoid the negative physical and mental effects of over eating and drinking, find ways to moderate food and alcohol intake. Plan for healthful, easy snacks between meals, so you can enjoy your favorite foods when it’s time for the festivities. It’s also important to stay hydrated with water.

Consider your expectations

It is normal to feel some disappointment at the holidays. It is bittersweet to reminisce about the magical, larger-than-life experiences from childhood holidays and yearn for these to be recreated even when things have changed. Focus on the positives that are still present: sharing laughs, engaging in traditions and reconnecting with loved ones.

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Related Campus Units

Psychology Department

Assistant Professor of Clinical Studies
Traumatic stress and child maltreatment
Emotion regulation
Emotion socialization
Community-based participatory research