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Connection Corner

3 ways to reduce stress this holiday season

girl looking stressed holding wrapped gifts

Holidays can bring forth so many emotions and whether those emotions are happy, stressful, or sad, they often seem magnified during the holidays. Several of our Extension colleagues from across the country have shared tips on reducing stress this holiday season. Here are three of my favorite ones, along with some links to additional resources:

  • Give up perfection. Set realistic expectations for family events and learn to say no and/or accept help from others. University of Illinois Family Life Educator, Cheri Burcham, shared this thought, “To easily prevent part of the stress is to forget about perfection and unrealistic expectations. Acknowledge that this time of year can get very hectic and that in real life, things won’t be and don’t have to be perfect." She also shared 10 tips from Mayo Clinic to prevent holiday stress and depression.
  • Don’t be afraid to retire traditions if they are stressful and plan new traditions. This can be especially helpful for families going through changes due to loss, divorce or new family structure. Minnesota Extension has a great article tackling the topic of minimizing holiday stress focusing on new families and traditions, as well as managing holiday spending and volunteering.
  • Practice self-care to help you relax and enjoy this holiday season. This year may still be a combination of virtual and in-person gatherings and navigating all those discussions and decisions can be draining. University of Georgia Extension staff stress the importance of taking care of yourself this holiday, by taking time to move your body, unplug from digital information and find unique ways to connect.

Whether you are gathering with family and friends this holiday season or having a quiet holiday at home, I hope these tips for reducing stress this holiday help you take care of yourself and enjoy the moments you have with loved ones.


Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers.

Schmidt attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her bachelor's degree in psychology and also for her master's degrees in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a certified facilitator of the Matrixx System/Real Colors program by the National Curriculum and Training Institute.


Connection Corner:  is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.