5 Strategies to Relieve Holiday Stress

Feeling stressed out by the holidays? And you’re not sure you’re going to be able to make it a Merry Christmas or Happy New Year this time?

That’s ok. I’m going to give you some ideas about how to relax and deal with that holiday stress.

First, this.

One of the ways you’ll end up with a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year is to stop trying to MAKE it a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Let your holidays unfold the way they will. Keep moving toward your goals and roll with the punches.

Obviously, that’s easier said than done. But that’s ok. You’ll get better by practicing.

So, without further ado, here are some ideas of how to let go of any holiday stress you’re carrying around.

Three Physical Strategies for Letting Go of Holiday Stress


holiday stress
Your own private scream room.

Get in your car and go for a drive with no destination.

Turn up the radio really loud.

Scream at the top of your lungs.

Do that a few times until you feel better.

  • If it makes you cry, don’t worry.
  • When you really let out the tears, you’ll feel better and be able to get on with your day. And probably have more energy!
  • Consequently, if you hold back your tears, you might end up feeling more stressed out. Therefore, let them out when they come.


#2  Bioenergetic Exercise Therapy Leah Benson Therapy

Find a private place where you can be alone. Like your bedroom. Stand in front of your bed. Make fists and lift your arms overhead. Slam your forearms down on the bed and exhale as you hit the mattress. Scream on the exhale if that feels good.

Do this until you’re exhausted.

Then rest and do it again like that twice more.

Some people think this is violence or gives them permission to be violent. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. In this case, you are choosing the time, place, and intensity of your emotional expression. Violence is misdirected, excessive, and out-of-control emotional or physical expression.


drawing of hands twisting a towel#3

Again, find yourself a private place. Grab a towel or hand towel. Twist it to within an inch of its life while relaxing your chest and belly, breathing deeply, and exhaling fully. Then, if no one is around, let yourself yell or growl while you twist. Bonus on this one! Roll up a part of the towel and bite down on it while you breathe as deeply as you can until you gag. This will release a lot of tension in your jaw and throat.

Two Mental Tricks for Remaining Calm


Repeat the statement, “high hopes and low expectations,” as you prepare for your big events.

And breathe.

Remember that the higher your expectations, the harder you fall when life doesn’t meet them.



Make a mindfulness practice out of your holiday preparations.

Notice your emotions during the process rather than express them. Unless you are conscientiously doing one of the physical strategies above in private.

The more you practice mindfulness, the better you get at it. The holidays are a goldmine of opportunity to practice your “noticing” skills as you navigate the insanity.

Here’s a tip:

There’s a difference between emotions and feelings.  

  • Feelings are sensations in our bodies.
  • Emotions are the stories we give to those sensations.

Separating your feelings from your emotions is a useful exercise.

For example; your coworker is really irritating you again (!) at the office holiday party.

Don’t react and express. But rather, just notice the sensations in your body.

  • Is your energy rushing to your head and upper body?
  • Are you losing your footing, so to speak?
  • How does your body feel?
  • What impulses do you have to bring your body back to equilibrium?
  • Focus all of your energy toward making a connection to the earth with your feet. Just like a lightning rod, direct the energy in your body to the earth via your feet.
  • Breathe lightly, slowly, and deeply.

holiday stress

I hope these 5 tips give you some relief from holiday stress.

And if you’re looking for a guide in your mindfulness practice, give me a call. We’ll talk.

Last but not least – Happy holidays. See you next year!

Leah Benson Therapy icon

Contact me now to set up your free 15-minute phone consultation.

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