8 Tips for a Stressless Holiday Season

Release Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA – No matter what holiday you celebrate, every year the holidays are a stressful time. This year, worries about the economy, lost jobs and the mortgage crisis add extra coal to the stockings of anxiety people carry around this time of year. How do you make the holidays a cheerful time, even in the face of too many tasks and obstacles? 
According to Sheila Kennedy, SSJ, Ph.D., director of the counseling center at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, Pa., some stress occurs during holidays when people set out to have the “perfect” holiday season. “They are seeing these commercials and images on T.V. of finding the “perfect” gift, or throwing the “perfect party” and end up straining themselves to recreate a past holiday or tradition. “Resetting expectations about the holidays, scaling things down and creating new traditions can help to make that “perfect” anxiety go away,” says Kennedy. “Living life one hour at a time, and sticking to a routine can help everyone to feel more balanced and less stressed during the holiday season.” Here are some things Dr. Kennedy suggests people can do to alleviate stresses during this holiday season:


  • Make a realistic budget when shopping for presents, and stick to it. Try to limit credit card spending if possible, or spend cash. Think of different types of gifts that are more personal, such as inviting a friend to your home for a meal, or sending a freshly baked item as a gift.
  • Volunteer for a local community organization. “Altruistic behavior helps to make people feel better about themselves, and active service can help someone others in need.”
  • Step away from the cookie, or well, some of them: Keeping up a regular routine with rest and exercise, and not overindulging can help to keep a feeling of balance.
  • Balance your Traditions: Couples should try to incorporate religious traditions from both sides of the family into holiday celebrations.
  • Family Ties- Relationships during the holidays can get stressful when family that does not spend time together often during the year sees one another. “Try to be open and accept people for who they are for this short period of time,” says Kennedy. Try to be positive and complementary around friends and family.
  • Reach out to estranged family members or friends. “The holidays are a good time to reflect back on the year, and to work on forgiveness and reconciliation, says Kennedy. “Reach out to family or friends that you may have lost touch with or had a disagreement, and try to work things out.”
  • Make an “I am thankful for” List. Realizing ones blessings and new opportunities can help to calm can feelings of discontent or sadness.
  • Reconnect to the season and its meaning without the commercialization. Kennedy suggests going to church or prayer, watching Holiday movies, or taking time out to do something you enjoy.


Dr. Kennedy is available to speak more about this topic. Please contact Lisa Mixon, Media Relations Manager at 215.753.3664 if you wish to speak with her.