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10 Ways To Break Free From Holiday Stress

As a kid, Christmas can’t come fast enough for most of us. Opening countless presents around the tree, reunions and parties with family (the perfect chance to collect all that aguinaldo from our elders), and all the festive feels! Add X number of decades, the holidays has become that inevitably stressful season looming in.

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From a series of Christmas parties and family gatherings, shopping for budgeted exchange gifts to splurging for our most beloved ones, Christmas has been much commercialized over the years. The pressure to give the most perfect and expensive gifts, plus the pressure to be present in all social gatherings gives us unnecessary worries and stress year after year. What then can we do to eventually move from this frenzied state to a much more relaxed, meaningful holiday season? 

Here, we gathered tips and advice from wellness warriors and yogis to help you lessen the burden and be truly merry this holiday season!


Keep things light and simple.

According to Anna Carbonell, a certified yoga teacher at Yogapad in Mullumbimby, Australia, they don’t stress about decorating their house for Christmas. She stated “If we feel that it will bring us joy to decorate together, then we will do it. If it will only cause stress, then why bother.”


Opt for more personal presents than trendy ones.

Personalized items never go out of style. And this way, not only you get to save money, but now, you have enough reasons to start those DIY projects you’ve been pinning and saving on your Pinterest boards. It’s true that most of us would probably love to receive something that would gather some “oohs and ahhs” during those gatherings we are scheduled to attend, because hey, who doesn't love that shiny new thing?

But, as cliché as it seems, it really is that thought that counts. “We don’t buy any trendy presents. The planet is full of pollution and we don’t want to add to it. My husband and I promised each other that we won’t buy any material things that we actually need. There is no pressure at all to get anything for the other. Last year, I treated him to a meditation retreat and he treated me to a massage, which we both needed because we have a toddler who’s running the household. Anna adds, who also manages Aloha Hula NSW in Sydney.


Always remember the reason for this season.

Monica Eleazar-Manzano, who now resides in El Nido, a yoga teacher and a homeschooling mom said that “We only give one gift to each child for Christmas, because we want to celebrate the season of giving and showing my children that the holidays is all about merry making through acts of love and service, rather than receiving presents. Although of course they are so excited about receiving and opening their presents too!


Take a breather.

Nikki Torres, of and a qualified wellness coach said that “This season instantly gives everyone the feeling of excitement mixed with to-do’s. From shopping to planning parties or what to serve at the dinner table for Noche Buena, all while having to deal with the holiday rush outside. Just being aware of this helps me plan out days to stay in and just re-center myself. “


It’s OK to say no to parties.

I often say that traffic in our country is like instant noodles-just add water. Now, add all these Christmas parties, shoppers and all the rush. Imagine how bad the carmageddon will be. So is it really necessary to attend all the Christmas gatherings you get invited to?

“Ask yourself, what you can share to the people in that party. If you think you have something invaluable to share, then you have to attend that gathering. If you’re doing it just for the drinks and raffle prizes then you know it’s not worth it.” Venj adds.

“This does not only apply during the holidays but year-round as well. I choose the social events I attend and the people I surround myself with. Being in social gatherings means you give out and absorb energy from other people, and choosing to care for your energy is an essential part of self care. Also, when you attend too many parties, you end up staying up late too often and will probably eat and drink more than you should. Not saying that you should be boring and a party pooper, but it is possible to strike balance between celebrating and caring for yourself and body at the same time.” Says Nikki who is also a yoga teacher and creator of NT Sweat.


There is no need to break the bank.

For Ria Tirazona, a yoga teacher at Yoga+, "it helps a lot to remind ourselves that over spending is not necessary to make the holidays meaningful. This is a common source of stress during the holidays.” There’s nothing more stressful than having those pesky credit collectrors run after you because of your credit card bills. Think Rebecca Bloomwood of Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Ria also often prefers doing things for her family and friends, as that tends to match her love language more, which are acts of service. This approach makes her gift giving more personal. And she also likes to match whatever she gives or does to the recipient needs. Her example was “for friends who often have back pain due to bad posture, I offer them a private yoga session, or make them a blend of essential oils. I also like writing notes and letting people know how I feel about them and how grateful I am for their presence in my life”


Do things at your own pace.

For Venj, sleeping early and waking up early is the key. According to him, if you have enough sleep, you have enough energy to tackle whatever the day throws at you. And waking up early gives you time to do any self care routine you have.

“I am lucky that I get to work a job that is flexible in hours. And during the Christmas season, we have fewer classes on the schedule. As such, I am able to find pockets of time for myself. Whether it’s the “busiest time if the year” or not, I try to make time on a regular basis to walk my dog and just decompress by spending a few moments of quiet time.” adds Ria who’s been teaching yoga for 6 years now.


Treat yourself.

It is often said that is always better to give that to receive. For me, I love everything home service. Recently, I have tried this home service spa called Massage MNL (@massagemnl on Instagram), and boy, did it do wonders to all the pregnancy aches I have!

Venj Pellena of Yogafit Timog says, “You can’t pour from an empty cup. So take care of yourself first. If you’re happy and grateful inside, filled with love, your mere presence will be a gift to everyone around you.

Nikki also adds this “ Basic self-care is where we should all start. We’re buzzing with so much holiday energy that we eat crappy food even outside parties. Just sticking to the simple habits will make such a huge difference. I also encourage everyone to over indulge snd have something you know won’t do your body any good. Lastly, make time to rest. By rest that means staying home, getting off of social media for a day or two, and perhaps even taking at least 10 mins a day to sit and meditate.


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Stick to tradition.

There’s nothing more comforting than smelling your mom’s signature dish? Or knowing that you will receive your favorite tita’s special Christmas pudding? For me, the holiday rush has caused some of us to miss the true essence of Christmas spirit.

Venj says make this season more special by spending less time thinking about the lavish food and the expensive presents, but by sitting down talking and listening to old stories with lolo and lola, titos and titas and just listen to each other. Your presence, your attention is the most valuable gift you can give to your family and loved ones.


Don’t forget to give back

Because its the season of giving, what’s more fulfilling than giving back to your community and not expecting anything in return?

As per Nikki, she doesn’t really follow a list when it comes to getting gifts. But she sticks to her yearly tradition during Christmas Eve wherein she and her closest friends drive around the Metro to give out cooked Noche Buenas to homeless families and to feed stray animals. They are a small collective with a growing number of pledgers and every year they are also getting more volunteers.