5 Tips for Managing Mental Health during the Holiday Season

It’s the Most Stressful Time of the Year

While the holiday season is a time for merriment and joy, for many of us it is also a time that brings on high stress and burnout. From the end of year demands at work to gift buying and spending extended time with family, the extra exertion is enough to upend just about anyone. While you can’t control every aspect of the season, you can set yourself up for personal success by taking care of your overall well-being and preparing for potentially tough moments or decisions. 

Here are 5 pieces of advice for maintaining your mental health while navigating the ups and downs of the holiday season:

  1. Cover your basics. Get enough sleep, exercise, water, and avoid sugary or highly processed food. If you are going to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. By establishing a sound foundation, you will be able to show in as best form as possible. 
  2. Lean into your self-care practice. Identify and adhere to mindful practices that help you move through stressful moments. Meditation (even 2 minutes can make a huge difference!), saying affirmations, journaling, and calling a trusted friend are all great options to keep in your back pocket when you feel triggered. If you are working with a therapist, consider setting up additional sessions and be sure to find out what off hours or emergency communication options are available.
  3. Set boundaries. Be honest with yourself about how you want to spend your time, energy, and money. Only agree to participate in events and gatherings that you want to attend. If you’re traveling to visit family or friends, consider staying in a hotel or AirBnB if that will help protect your energy during your trip. Also, give yourself permission to decline answering questions about any topic you don’t feel comfortable discussing, regardless of who asks. Lastly, set a budget to manage any potential money stress. As a rule of thumb, try to limit your spending to 1.5% or less of your annual salary. 
  4. Practice gratitude. Make a list of the things you’re most looking forward to about the holidays and focus your attention there. Whether it’s seeing your favorite cousin for the first time in months or eating your mom’s famous macaroni and cheese, hone in on the aspects of the season that light you up.  
  5. Set clear expectations with your workplace. If you plan to take time off for the holidays, help your manager and team plan for your absence so you’re able to truly enjoy your downtime. Be proactive about securing coverage while you’re off the clock. If there is a possibility that your workplace will encounter emergencies that may require your attention, designate clear criteria under which it is appropriate to contact you.



  • Brandi Sinkfield

    Dr. Brandi, is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist, who was inspired by her mother, a registered nurse who graduated with a degree in information technology. Through tough love and support from her father, extended family, and friends she attended Case Western Medical School and received her M.D. She completed residency training at Cleveland Clinic and dual fellowship training at Stanford Anesthesiology in Perioperative Management and Digital Health. Growing up she experienced the lack of transparency, shame and secrecy surrounding women’s health and body confidence driving her to imagine a pathway for her own daughter and other women to access information that empowers them and inspires confidence.