Tricks to Handling Holiday Stress Without Resorting to Sitcoms or Red Bull

Tis’ the season to throw your laptop across the room.  Those of us with a semester to finish or deadlines to meet before we earn those precious holidays are enduring more than the usual stress this month.  And if that weren’t enough, there’s the stress of finding the perfect gift for Aunt Judy and Uncle Harry amidst the inane messages of “Put on a holly-jolly face and swipe your credit card again.”

Want to swing a bough of holly through somebody’s car windshield? 

Chances are, you’re stressed.  Stress is almost as abundant this season as advertisements for the perfect gift.

The most obvious ways to deal with stress are 1) watch an entire season of Parks and Recreation, or 2) drink a pack of Red Bull.  We all know neither solves the problem of the looming deadline, the traffic at the mall, or the self-imposed guilt of your tiny gift-giving budget.

But in the heart of a stressful season, the last thing you have time for is brainstorming ways to handle stress.

So I did some brainstorming for you.

Here’s a list to get started.  Try some.  Add some.  Then go get holly-jolly.

  • Make music (as in, with your lips or a trombone, not an i-device)
  • Ask someone for a hug
  • Talk to a kid
  • Sit outside
  • Stretch on your tippy toes
  • Paint in bright colors
  • Make today your personal Ugly Christmas Sweater Day
  • Wrap yourself in a blanket
  • Cook for somebody besides yourself
  • Listen to Gregorian chants
  • Stare at a tree and pretend to be one
  • Write how much time you want to spend on every task and when time’s up, move on whether you’re done or not
  • Apologize to the person you take your stress out on
  • Plan ahead for a day of retreat
  • Listen to someone, even longer than you think you have time for
  • Make deadlines for yourself you can keep—not overly optimistic superhuman ones
  • Take a Sabbath
  • Shut your eyes
  • Practice making snow angels (even if you don’t have snow)
  • List five things you look forward to in the next month
  • Write a poem about happy places
  • Turn off your computer
  • Pet an animal
  • Walk for half an hour
  • Write someone a note by hand
  • Give someone a gift just for fun, not for Christmas
  • Make the world’s longest paperclip chain
  • Eat a banana
  • Mash a banana with a baseball bat
  • Ask for help


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