by Donna L. Hamilton, MD, MS

Be honest. Do you have mixed feelings about the holiday season? Yes, the idea of  family traditions, connecting with old friends, and eating your favorite goodies  might bring a smile to your face. The reality of getting it done, however….Well, that’s another story.  Even the most seasoned multi-tasker can find her stress level increasing when holiday activities get dumped onto an already full plate.

The holiday season ushers in stress on many fronts.  For example, socially it often leads to us financially overextending ourselves.  It can also highlight distressing social experiences, especially if your life falls short of the idyllic scenarios highlighted in Christmas movies and holiday cards.  Add to that common physical stressors like poor eating habits or emotional stressors like striving for perfect decorations and you could find yourself not feeling very jolly. You could also find yourself with stress induced illnesses like headache, digestion problems, a cold, or worse.

If any of this sounds familiar don’t wait until you start feeling like the Grinch. As with most things health related, prevention is best. Pull a few stress management habits out of your personal wellness toolkit and put them to good use now.

Here are some of my favorite holiday stress reduction tools.

  • Don’t sweat the little things.

Remember what you’re celebrating. Whether you focus on the religious, cultural, or secular aspects of your holiday season it probably has more to do with faith, family, and friends than with gifts and decorations. Keeping a realistic perspective helps reduce stress by avoiding upset when something doesn’t go as planned.  For super achievers giving yourself permission to do this makes a priceless gift. It’s okay if you burned the rolls or you didn’t find that one special toy. Don’t sweat it.

  • Take care of your body.

Make eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep a priority in order to ward off some of the physical effects of stress. It also helps keep your immune system strong. Who wants to take care of your holiday  to do list if you have a cold or the flu?

  • Ask for Help.

Many super achievers think they have to do everything themselves.  Extra holiday responsibilities can feel like they’re stretching you  so thin you might snap. Whether you delegate decorating responsibilities or ask someone to babysit so you can have a few hours of “me time,” ask for assistance when you need it.

  • Set  boundaries.

This doesn’t just mean with people. It also applies to your finances, commitments, and plans.   Decide how much money you’re going to spend, how many extra activities you’ll participate in, and how much decorating, cooking, cleaning, and shopping you’re going to do.  Setting your limits can help avoid feeling out of control, something often associated with the stress response.

  • Know your priorities.

Deciding what’s most important to you helps avoid overwhelm by guiding your choices.  If your focus this year is the family dinner then don’t worry about finding the perfect gift for everyone. If it’s spending time with loved ones then maybe you’ll want to volunteer  together at a local hospital rather than go the community holiday party.

Remember, stress management is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Self-care isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity for anyone who values their well-being.  Isn’t that a great gift for a super achiever to give herself?

For more holiday self-care and stress management tips read this.

Be well.


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Donna Hamilton, MD, MS, FAAP

Chief Wellness Officer at Manifest Excellence
Bestselling author, dynamic holistic wellness speaker and wellness luminary Dr. Donna Hamilton, MD, has a mission to help everyone live the healthy, satisfying lives we’re all meant to lead. Dr. Hamilton passionately teaches what being healthy really means and how to do it in a way that fits your unique needs. Her easy, practical tips assist you with assessing the entire wellness landscape and appropriately planning your personal wellness journey.

A wellness thought leader, she champions a comprehensive approach to health by addressing mental, emotional, social, spiritual & physical well-being with a simple and potent message. Her book Wellness Your Way offers a practical strategy to assist readers in creating a happier, healthier life. For more information or to book Dr. Hamilton for speaking engagements visit or
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