The holidays can be a stressful time of year.  Between expenses, event planning, gift-giving, and social obligations, a lot is going on, and we put a ton of pressure on ourselves.  Here are a few tips for surviving the holidays with your mental health intact.


Make plans in advance

Event planning and scheduling around the holidays can cause a lot of stress in your life.  Trying to get large groups of people together can be a scheduling nightmare. If you typically get together with groups of friends and family, try scheduling early.  Although it may seem a bit much to start planning an event a month or more in advance, this can significantly reduce conflicts and likely gives you the first pick of days.

On top of planning your events, balancing the incoming invitations can also be overwhelming.  Again, planning your schedule early can significantly reduce stress. This allows you to know where and when you need to be at a given event.  Committing to invitations first also helps deal with conflicts. Although telling someone you can’t make it to an event is always hard, people will understand when you let them know upfront that you are already committed. 

Make time to recover

It is essential over the holidays to give yourself time to recover.  This can be done in a variety of ways. Firstly make sure you have some downtime between commitments.  It is fun to see family and friends, but it can also be exhausting to be running around constantly. Make sure to give yourself some quiet time at home to recover.  Take some time to take a warm bath, read a book, or sit down to enjoy a nice cup of tea. Even if you are only able to fit in 30-60 minutes for yourself, you will notice the difference when you let yourself unwind from all the chaos.

Sleep is crucial over the holidays.  There will be a lot of early mornings and late nights over the holiday season, but you can’t let that cut into your sleep patterns. Sleep has a significant impact on our mental health and can affect everything from memory to mood. According to the Harvard newsletter, studies have shown that 65-90% of adults and 90% of children with depression experience some sleep issues.  So ensure that you prioritize getting some rest over the holidays.

Shop Early

Finding that perfect gift is on all of our minds.  Leaving gift shopping to the last minute can cause unnecessary stress.  Firstly you end up with this obligation looming over your head. Knowing there is a list of items you need to get and letting that pressure build up over a few weeks not only adds last-minute pressure but can add stress over that entire period.  Purchasing early means you have a large task off your plate and off of your mind, allowing you to focus and balance other responsibilities.  

Shopping early also reduces the risk of critical items being sold out.  When you have planned out your presents, and they aren’t available or won’t arrive on time, it can cause last-minute panic.  Try taking advantage of Black Friday sales; this lets you shop a month in advance at Boxing day prices. This helps with both stress levels and budgets.  You can even take advantage of online shopping when you plan in advance to avoid busy malls and have your gifts arrive right to your door.


The key to reducing holiday stress is planning.  The more you have control over your situation and schedule, the easier it is to manage stress and anxiety.  Whether it is scheduling, shopping, or making time for yourself, do yourself a favour and take time to plan out your holiday season.