How to Minimize Stress and Master the Holidays

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By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

It goes without saying that the holidays are a busy time. In addition to typical daily life, there’s partying, traveling, spending, socializing, and the list goes on. Many would say the chaos of it all is worth it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to minimize the stress and relax. Whether it means reducing or increasing one’s social interactions, there are ways to feel fulfilled rather than drained by the time New Year’s comes around.

Firstly, what exactly are your sources of holiday stress? One source may be simpler than you’d think: doing too much. Yes, it’s obvious, but let me explain. Naturally, when met with a rather exciting or interesting activity, we often opt to participate in it. While doing good and fun things are, well, good and fun, having too many good things going on can lead to stress and a lack of time to decompress.

Another stressor may be the overwhelming obligations and the temptation to overindulge, such as excessive eating, drinking, and spending. Too much of any of these things could lead to debt, weight gain, or embarrassing memories.

Furthermore, balancing alone time with together time becomes significantly more difficult for many during the holidays. Family time is a wonderful thing, but being around others for too long without proper rest takes some of the enjoyment out of being with loved ones.

On the other side are those who are not with family during the holidays. While many are getting together with those they love, some might become more aware of their loneliness and feel left out.

During this time of year, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may occur. While it can come on subtly with the season’s transition from fall to winter, more time spent indoors because of colder weather brings out this form of depression, invoking seemingly sudden bursts of unhappiness and/or stress.

Despite these concerns, there are still ways to be on top of one’s mental health during this time of year. Here are some useful tricks for mastering the holidays, stress-free:

Keep a Journal

Keep a journal, or at least write things down, an age-old trick to maintain healthy stress levels. Keeping track of finances, plans, and obligations is a surefire way to stop stress dead in its tracks.

Remain Disciplined

Remaining disciplined is key to mastering holiday overindulgence. Remind yourself not to have eggnog and cookies with every meal. This saves us from guilty feelings later on. There is nothing wrong with saying “no” to tentative plans or an extra drink. Staying fit and leaving space for alone time is worth it in the long run.

Balance is Key

Being burnt out halfway through December sucks, even if it means sacrificing potential plans with friends and family. They can wait for another day. No one is fun to be around when they are tired or stressed. Besides, spending a day during the holidays to curl up with a warm blanket and a book is a fun idea in itself.


Scott, Elizabeth. “How to Manage the Inevitable Holiday Season Stress.” Verywell Mind, Verywell Mind, 24 June 2019,

“6 Tips for Managing Holiday Stress.” Healthline, Healthline,

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Decluttering for Better Mental Health

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(Picture Credit: Shutterstock)

By Natalie Stamper, Psy.D

Cleaning can be a dreadful but necessary chore. We tend to put things like cleaning off. However, taking the time to declutter has proved to be a way to create harmony not only in your physical space but also your mental space.

Clutter can cause stress and is distracting, as additional objects within one’s line of sight can easily avert attention away from the task at hand (Swedish Medical Center). Additionally, stress from putting off cleaning can lead to different stress reactions, like stress eating (Swedish Medical Center). In turn, decluttering is capable of reducing triggered responses to high stress and leaves time for other, more engaging activities. The additional amount of time gained from having an organized home will aid in other healthy and productive habits, as well as reduce anxiety.

One well-known guru of home tidying is Marie Kondo, creator of the “KonMari Method™” and host of the Netflix original series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it,’” she writes in her #1 New York Times bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Goodreads). Kondo developed this method to help her clients and readers rid themselves of their needless possessions. It is important to ask oneself if everything one owns is essential for keeping.

Decluttering is an activity that creates a multitude of desirable benefits. Positive effects will become apparent as one goes. Having a clear mind and a clear space are two traits of a mindful individual. One will find that a cleaner environment may lessen stress and its symptoms. Take a moment to look around your things and clear out anything taking up too much space. It will feel good to know that action has been taken not only to make one’s space look nicer, but also to grow closer to gaining a more positive and stress-free mindset.


“How Decluttering Can Improve Physical and Mental Health.” Swedish, Swedish Medical Center, 16 May 2017,

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Quotes by Marie Kondō.” Goodreads, Goodreads,

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