10 Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress

Patient Expert
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The holiday season tends to be stressful for everyone, but the stress can be magnified when you’re in chronic pain. Since stress tends to increase pain, it’s important to plan ahead and do whatever you can to reduce your stress during the holidays.

Stressful shopping

Avoid the stress and exhaustion of holiday shopping by ordering your gifts online, from catalogs or through TV shopping channels. A benefit is that out-of-town gifts can be sent directly to the recipients, saving you the hassle of finding a box, packaging the gifts and waiting in line at the post office.

Avoid the mall

If you have to shop at malls and shopping centers during the holidays, try to do your shopping on weekdays if possible. You’ll find better parking spaces and shorter checkout lines.

Creativity with wrapping

Use gift bags instead of traditional wrapping. (Dollar stores, catalogs and TV shopping channels often offer low-cost assortments of gift bags.)

Be selective with cards

Each year, between busy schedules and increased postage costs, fewer and fewer people send holiday cards. If you still feel you must send some cards, be selective. Only send them to close friends and family you seldom see.

Learn to say "No"

It‘s ok to say no. You know your limits better than anyone else. People will almost always push you to do more than you’re comfortable with if you let them, but they’ll usually respect your decision if you tell them you can’t. Decide what is important to you and your family and how much you’re able to handle, then say no to everything else.


When everyone is coming to your house for dinner, ask each one to bring one or two dishes, leaving yourself only one or two simple items to prepare.

Travel wisely

If you are going out of town to visit relatives for the holidays, consider staying at a hotel for at least part of the time.  Having a separate haven will reduce your stress by giving you a sense of control over your own space and activities for at least a portion of each day.

Vacation during the holidays

If the demands of your extended family are overwhelming, consider making an annual holiday vacation a new family tradition. This can be a special bonding time for you and your immediate family. You will not feel compelled to cook, and you will probably reduce the size of your gift list because everything will have to fit in a car or on a plane.


Take time to think about all the people and things in your life that you are thankful for. Whenever possible, tell people why you’re grateful to have them in your life. Recent studies showed that people who make a conscious effort to be thankful were not only more joyful and optimistic, but they also had fewer illnesses.


Set aside a little quiet time for yourself each day to relax and de-stress. Put on some headphones and listen to soothing music or soak in a warm bubble bath.