Helpful tips to deal with holiday stressors

The holiday season can be very stressful and overwhelming for many of reasons: money problems and having to buy gifts, dealing with difficult family members, and having lots of parties and obligations to attend.

Phyliss Taylor, MD, medical director of outpatient services for UF Health Psychiatry – Jacksonville, does a lot of education on how to cope with stress and shared some advice on how to make the holidays less stressful.

“Have a realistic, balanced perspective about things. Holidays are busy, and everybody gets stressed out. But you need to have a realistic idea of what’s going to happen and what’s not going to happen,” Taylor advised. “Nobody has the perfect holiday, nobody is going to fix the perfect holiday dinner, nobody has the perfect family so you need to do the best you can, and accept the things you can’t control.”

Another tip Taylor gave was to not do too much. During this time of year, everyone gets a lot of requests to attend parties, make food or attend other events. She encourages people to learn how to say “no,” and weigh the pros and cons of each invitation or request. Taylor said to ask yourself four questions:

  1. Is this something I really want to do?

  2. Is this something I have time to do?

  3. Is this something that’s going to help me feel better?

  4. Is this something that’s really going to stress me out and not contribute to my joy?

“You have to make some tough decisions,” Taylor said. “If people get upset about it, it’s okay. They will get over it. You have to set some appropriate limits and boundaries.”

Unfortunately, dealing with difficult family members or friends can also add stress to the season. Taylor suggests limiting the amount of time spent with those people. If you must attend a family event, try to get away by taking a walk. She also recommends setting a specific amount of time to stay and then give a good excuse and leave.

“Don’t submerge yourself in a negative environment because that’s not going to help,” Taylor said.

If you suffer from stress, anxiety or depression, Taylor explains that the best thing to do is try to not get out of your routine.

“If you normally eat well, sleep well, exercise, avoid drugs and alcohol and take care of yourself, you should keep doing those things during the holidays because it will protect you against some of the depression,” she said.

Remember to take time away if you’re getting overwhelmed during this holiday season. Go find a quiet place, take a walk, listen to music, whatever you need to do to kind of distract yourself and give yourself some time.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with depression or anxiety, please visit or call 904-244-0411 to schedule an appointment.

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Phyliss N. Taylor, MD

Phyliss N. Taylor, MD

Courtesy Assistant Professor