Holiday Stress Does Not Have to Ruin the Holidays

holiday stress

Holiday stress and depression can ruin the mood, hurt your health and destroy relationships. Combining a little realistic thinking with planning ahead can help keep holiday stress and depression away. It is not a surprise that people get stressed during the holidays. The demands placed on people — parties, shopping, cleaning — to name a few, can drive almost anyone around the bend.

The Turkey Trail

The Turkey Trail is a moveable Thanksgiving feast which can bring on more stress. Thanksgiving dinner at 2 o’clock at Mom’s; another feast at 6 o’clock at the significant other’s parent’s house and then show up at friends for still another meal. The Turkey Trail happens every Thanksgiving in countless homes and issues develop as people and families start to look for creative solutions that genuinely work.

Negotiating where and what to eat Thanksgiving dinner can be an exercise that burns off calories before the first drumstick is carved. Some families make the whole process needlessly painful as the older generation may feel neglected and the younger generation feeling pressure, guilt and resentment. It doesn’t have to end up this way.

Holiday stress caused by the Turkey Trail can be solved with a little planning. Whatever system of eating location is put in place, the important thing is for the people involved to feel loved, included in the process and make the entire process work for the most people. With the right mindset, planning where to eat and with whom can be enjoyable instead of adding to the holiday stress.

With some tips, the stress can be minimized and the holidays can even be enjoyable. The Mayo Clinic suggests three things a person can do to minimize the holiday stress:

  1. Acknowledge the Feelings. If logistics will not allow a family gathering, remember that it is alright to be sad. Do not try to force happiness just because it is the season to be jolly.
  2. Reach Out. If being alone for the holidays is not appealing, try reaching out to the community through volunteering. Many people find that being proactive in reaching out can help them find support. Volunteering a little time by investing in others is also an excellent way to lift spirits and build relationsihips.
  3. Be Realistic. The holiday season does not have to be ideal or perfect. Neither does it have to be a replay of last year. Family units change, grow and evolve. Along with changes in families, traditions and rituals evolve. Select a few traditions to hold close, but remain open to the idea and challenge of creating new ones.

RentLingo recently conducted a survey of thousands of people and compared the expected stress levels of apartment dwellers with those living in a house. Some of the results were surprising:


  • People who make over $150,000 a year actually tend to have LESS company over for turkey than people who bring home less, 6.2 percent compared to 8.4 percent.
  • Not having enough seating space for everyone almost ties the fear of not having a big enough kitchen
  • Family drama? 13 percent of the survey respondents were concerned about family drama compared to 19 percent of responders who lived in houses.
  • Almost twice as many people living in houses host Thanksgiving dinner as compared to those living in apartments
  • When they do host, apartment gatherings are roughly have the size and hosts forecast a stress level twice as high

Holiday stress does not have to ruin the holidays. With a little planning, understanding and flexibility, the holidays can be remembered as a joyous time for years.

By Jerry Nelson

Mayo Clinic
Cleveland Clinic


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