American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

12 Tips for Coping With Holiday Stress

Woman sitting beside Christmas treeIn the final days before Christmas, even the most organized and prepared of Santa’s helpers get a little overwhelmed by shopping, travel plans and finishing work deadlines. Rob Danoff, DO​, an osteopathic family physician in Philadelphia, can relate to the stress of the holiday crunch.

So how does one battle holiday stress? Dr. Danoff gives himself the gift of good health and controlled stress by taking cues from the popular holiday song “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” 

“It is easy to let the holiday to-do lists take over our lives, but remembering to give ourselves a couple of small ‘gifts’ a day will make a big difference in staying stress-free and healthy this holiday season,” says Dr. Danoff.

  • ​​On the 1st Day of Christmas— I take a musical time-out by making a holiday playlist. Listening to music can lower stress hormones, blood pressure and heart rates, as well as decrease anxiety and take your mind off pressing issues.

  • On the 2nd Day of Christmas— I play like a kid. If there is snow on the ground, build a snowman, make a snow angel or take a walk and look at decorations.

  • On the 3rd Day of Christmas— I learn to focus on one task at a time instead of multitasking. When you are wrapping presents or making cookies, take time to enjoy the smell, taste and memories of these happy times instead of running from one task to the next.

  • On the 4th Day of Christmas— I remind myself to look out the window and enjoy nature. Gazing out the window can lower your heart and breathing rate and help lift your mood.

  •  On the 5th Day of Christmas— I remember the spirit of the season and express gratitude. Being grateful for what you have can help you be happy.

  • On the 6th Day of Christmas— I learn to say “No, No, No” instead of “Go, Go, Go.” This can help us prevent over-committing, which allows more time to enjoy the holidays.

  • ​On the 7th Day of Christmas— I make sure I exercise. Sticking to your regular exercise schedule during the holidays reduces stress. Even a 20-minute walk three times a week can make a difference.

  • On the 8th Day of Christmas— I create a personal space. Whether it is your bedroom, car, kitchen or bathroom, find a place that can be your peaceful place for a five-minute recharge. 

  • ​On the 9th Day of Christmas— I make a point to eat healthy. Good nutrition provides an energy boost, prevents weight gain and provides a healthy boost to the immune system.

  • On the 10th Day of Christmas— I make sure to get my sleep. The gift of good sleep gives you both a physical and mental boost which will help concentration, memory and mood.

  • On the 11th Day of Christmas— I volunteer to help others in my community. Giving time to help others in need can lift the spirits of others as well as your own, and takes the focus off your concerns.

  • On the 12th Day of Christmas— I let myself really feel my emotions. While the holidays are a happy time, they can also bring up memories of past loss or hurt feelings. Instead of bottling them inside, allow yourself to feel them and move forward in a healthy way. 


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