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5 Mindful Ways to Disconnect and Manage Holiday Stress

articles Nov 01, 2022
Holiday Stress

For many, the holiday season is meant to bring feelings of love and joy — family reunions, indulgent foods, thoughtful gifts — it can also be a precursor for holiday stress with hectic holiday shopping, dealing with family dynamics, working over the holidays, and having to finance all of these activities.

During the holidays, demands become very high on mental skills that help us manage time, attention, and focus. This can leave us feeling mentally exhausted and drained. People that continue to work over the holidays show signs of burnout and reduced productivity, with two-thirds of people citing the holidays as a very stressful period of time. In addition to affecting our work and energy levels, holiday stress can also put a strain on our relationships.

When we disconnect and create space from work and the holiday rush, we are supporting our physical, mental, and emotional health and wellbeing to be at our best. This space will help us enhance our performance when we get back to the office and gain peace and security in our relationships.

To really enjoy the holidays, try these 5 Mindful Ways to Disconnect, backed by science-based practices to help you manage the inevitable holiday stress.

  1. Set boundaries to protect personal time. Do a mindful audit of your schedule in the weeks leading up to the holidays and carve out time dedicated to things you need doing and rebalance your workload by seeing what project deadlines can be transferred into the next year. This is a time to disconnect from work and prioritize being present with your loved ones. 
  2. Set reminders for self-care practices. We often will get lost in the hustle and bustle of holiday parties, family dinners, shopping for gifts + more. This is something you can do for yourself to help support your wellbeing. You can reference our mindful check-list for work-life balance!
  3. Plan focused time with a significant other. Put your phones on Do Not Disturb and remove other distractions to foster healthy relationships and deeper conversations. The holiday stress can put a strain on your relationship, it’s important to pause and check in with each other and see how you can support each other mindfully to manage that stress.
  4. Prioritize taking vacation days. In advance to the holidays make sure you have ample time to use what you can. “Statistically taking more vacation results in greater success at work as well as lower stress and more happiness at work and home.” - Harvard Business Review
  5. Pause and practice self-understanding. Rather than self-punishment, when things don’t go the way you expected, pause and practice self-understanding. Self-compassion can go a long way in supporting your resilience and wellbeing over the holidays and beyond. 

You’ve worked hard all year and if you just apply one of these simple tips you can manage your holiday stress more mindfully, your future self will thank you. Have a Happy Holiday!


 Michael Apollo MHSc RP is the founder of the Mindful Society Global Institute. Prior to founding MSGI in 2014, he was the Program Director of Mindfulness at the University of Toronto. He is an educator, licensed mental health clinician and certified facilitator in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.


Holidays Can Be Stressful. They Don’t Have to Stress Out Your Team. | Harvard Business Review

How to Strengthen your Relationship Amid Holiday Stress | Gottman Institute and Utah State University

The Data-Driven Case for Vacation | Harvard Business Review

Holiday Stress and the Brain | Harvard Medical School

Can you connect with me now? How the presence of mobile communication technology influences face-to-face conversation quality | International Association for Relationship Research

How to Practice Self-compassion for Resilience and Well-being | University of Utah

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