7 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress & Make the Season More Joyful


For many people, the holiday season represents a joyful time of the year. But for others, it’s a period of added stress that can result in exhaustion, weight gain, mounting debt, and…relatives.

Seems like every family has at least one relative who creates drama during the holidays. Think about the “crazy maker” at your family gatherings and see if they’re among this cast of characters:

  • Uncle Jim is intoxicated by 4 pm. He has brutally honest conversations with anyone he can corner. He excels at sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and instigating arguments.
  • Then there’s Cousin Lucy. She still holds a grudge over the rude comment Uncle Jim made to her last year. Of course, she’s “confidentially” shared this story with every member of the family.
  • And what about Grandpa Joe? He sits in the corner of the living room and watches TV all day. Even though he refuses to participate in family games or activities, he complains about being bored all the time.

So, how can you handle someone who thrives on making everyone else around them miserable?

If someone in your family loves to stir the pot during family gatherings, here are some practical steps you can take to ensure a stress-free holiday…

7 Practical Ways to Prevent a Crazy Maker from Ruining Your Holiday

How to Reduce Holiday Stress & Make the Season More Joyful

 1. Show Kindness

When greeting your quarrelsome relative, find something nice to say about them. Complimenting them on their outfit, hairstyle, or other accessory may help improve their disposition. This preemptive gesture of goodwill may help to set a positive tone for the family gathering.

Kind words can create a positive feedback loop – the person giving the compliment often ends up feeling just as uplifted as the receiver of the compliment. As difficult as it may be at first, get in the habit of complimenting your disagreeable relative. Who knows, you may be able to find common ground with them, which can be a win for everyone in the family.

 2. Get Moving

If you need a break from a movie marathon or if you just want to work off that extra slice of turkey or ham, get the family outside for some fresh air and exercise. Engage in a brain safe activity or take a long walk. Walking can help you clear your mind, decrease anxious thoughts, improve your mood, and burn some calories all at the same time.

Physical exercise boosts blood flow to the brain. When everyone in the family is thinking clearly, better decisions and behaviors should follow. It’s always better to stimulate the brain with physical activity than family drama.

 3. Avoid Alcohol

Many people think serving alcohol at a holiday gathering will help settle everyone down, but it actually can act like rocket fuel for impulsivity and family conflict (especially when consumed by the Uncle Jim’s of the world). Alcohol stimulates your appetite, prolongs the time you sit during a meal and is associated with continued eating even when you feel full.

Alcohol exerts substantial influence on the circulation in your pancreas, which increases the production of insulin. This leads to low blood sugar levels, which can negatively affect your decision-making. Instead of alcohol, serve a low-sugar, hot apple cider – it makes the house smell amazing and will warm cold hands after outdoor family fun.

 4. Minimize Conflict

Many people can function well with stress, but not well without it. Conflict-seeking behavior can be used as a form of self-medication to wake up the brain, and some people can get addicted to it.

Resist the urge to participate in discussions that can offend or create family strife. Always look for a way to redirect negative tirades or inappropriate conversations. If that doesn’t work, isolate the offending individual from the rest of the group to prevent them from ruining the holidays.

 5. Eliminate Sugar

There’s mounting evidence that sugar is toxic. Excessive sugar intake, which is linked to insulin imbalance, heart problems, and other organ issues, is responsible for 35 million deaths a year globally. If you find it difficult to resist holiday treats, be sure to steer clear of the dessert table (and make sure your troublemaking relative does the same).

Sugar increases erratic brain cell firing and has been implicated in aggression. Low blood sugar levels are associated with overall lower brain activity, which means more cravings and more bad decisions, like reaching for a sugary snack or soda.

The best way to regulate your blood sugar is to eat a healthy snack every 3 to 4 hours. Natural snacks, like whole fruits, seeds, and nuts, are portable and are ideal for fending off hunger between meals.

How to Be More Joyful This Holiday | Reduce Holiday Stress  6. Say Sorry

Perhaps there’s something in our DNA that makes us want to be right all the time, but many people have a hard time saying sorry. Even if you feel like you’ve been wronged, say you’re sorry to your antagonizing relative.

Offering an apology can help build a bridge in a relationship, and the other person might be grateful that you took the initiative in trying to resolve the disagreement. In the end, it’s far better to apologize than to cast blame and cause a meltdown at the dinner table.

 7. Be Mindful

In our “take care of number one” society, our focus tends to be on ourselves rather than on others. Try to be more mindful of those around you. If they have a need, try to meet it.

Force yourself to stay attentive in every conversation. Be an active listener and make eye contact with the person talking to you. Chances are, they’ll appreciate you taking the time to really listen to them, which in turn will make you grateful for being able to participate in a meaningful conversation.

Implementing these proactive strategies can help safeguard you and your family from a crazy maker so that you can enjoy a fun-filled and stress-free holiday.

The BrainMD team wishes you and yours a safe, healthy, and happy Holiday Season! 

At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.


Keith Rowe