Manage Stress during the Holidays: Hydrate!

Who’s ready to learn how to manage stress during the holidays? Me. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone either. When I got home on Sunday after Thanksgiving, I breathed a sigh of relief…for about two minutes until Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Giving Tuesday, and Hanukkah ganged up and took away all the breathing room. And pretty soon there will be office holiday parties.

I hit my yoga mat. I did some deep breathing. I meditated. All very nice and helpful, but I think the holidays call for a little bit more anti-stress activity. So I consulted Dr. Google.

Did you know that the American Psychological Association has an entire Holiday Stress Resource Center? (Spellcheck just now kept changing Holiday Stress to Holiday Tree! How annoyingly stressful.) The resource center website offers four colorful buttons right up top: Managing difficult family conversations, Dealing with the pressure of gift-giving, Dealing with financial stress, Managing expectations. The last button is an image of a cookie sheet full of burnt Christmas cookies. I clicked on it and was brought to a page of very straightforward suggestions.

Though the suggestion are things I already know, hearing them from a professional made me feel better. Here’s the list:

  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Be proactive.
  • Keep things in perspective.
  • Remember what’s important.
  • Take time for yourself.

They’re good, right? Simple, too. But the reminder is terrific. Maybe we should emboss these words on holiday wrapping paper or paint them on ornaments or a platter.

I clicked on the Financial Stress button. It pictures a piggy bank wrapped in Christmas lights. Like the Burnt Cookie button, this page also provides little gems of insight.

  • Keep a holiday “to-do” list.
  • Set realistic expectations.
  • Know yourself.
  • Recognize how you deal with stress.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Ask for support.

All really good suggestions. Here is the link to the Resource Center.  The people at the American Psychological Association know their stuff. I feel better already, though “Recognize how you deal with stress” is a tough one, especially if you do it badly, as I do. But that is where yoga, exercise and mediation come in!

But here is another anti-stress activity – even easier than yoga or meditation: Hydrate! That’s right simply staying hydrated can help manage stress during the holiday. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. It’s like your body’s built-in fire alarm. It goes off when things heat up. “Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol levels,” says Amanda Carlson, RD… “Cortisol is one of those stress hormones. Staying in a good hydrated status can keep your stress levels down. When you don’t give your body the fluids it needs, you’re putting stress on it, and it’s going to respond to that.” (

If you did not just step away from your screen and grab a drink of water, please do so. I did. I grabbed a Blossom Water and a glass of tap water.

The crazy Catch 22 of stress and hydration is that dehydration causes stress and the reverse: stress causes dehydration. So keep hydration on your holiday to do list.

Thank you, Doctor Google. Happy Holidays.