Advance with MUSC Health

Getting Through the Holidays: Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress and Depression

Advance With MUSC Health
December 07, 2022
A young woman looks pensive as a Christmas tree stands in the background.

By Toney Graham, III, M.D.

As the holiday season approaches, we often find ourselves under a lot of stress. Being overwhelmed by anxiety this time of year can negatively impact our holiday experience and health. Here are some suggestions to help you navigate holiday stress.

Tips to Prevent Holiday Stress and Depression

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Remember to manage expectations, whether those made by others or your expectations of yourself. You are only one person and only have 24 hours in the day. Make sure you take on only enough that you can realistically accomplish with the time you have and the resources available to you. Doing this will increase your chances of meeting those expectations. In turn, you will hopefully decrease thoughts of failure and negative feelings associated with depression. Following this advice will ensure that you have ample time and resources for the things you need to maintain your health by reducing stress.

2. Reach Out

Keeping open lines of communication can also reduce stress during the holiday season. Don’t carry the burden of stress on your own. Talk to people you know and trust about the things on your mind and what you’re worried about over the holiday season. Vocalize your hopes, fears and frustrations constructively and get valuable feedback. You’ll find it can relieve the stress associated with those thoughts. So don’t hold things in.

3. Be Active

Last but certainly not least, be active. This doesn’t mean you have to be a gym rat. While being active can include going to the gym, it can also involve going to holiday gatherings or walking around the nearest mall while you shop. The important thing is to remain active and interact with others as an outlet to reduce stress and as a source of positivity.

These are just a few things you could keep in mind to help reduce anxiety over the holiday season. I hope this holiday season finds you all in good health and prosperity. Happy holidays!

Toney Graham III, M.D.Dr. Toney Graham, III,  is an internal medicine and hospitalist physician at MUSC Health Black River Medical Center’s Primary Care – Thurgood Marshall Boulevard practice in Lake City, SC. To schedule an appointment, please call 843-394-5471, or visit