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Girl in a sweater wrapping a Christmas present

'Tis the season

3 tips for a stress-free holiday
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Revera was the first company to appoint a Chief Medical Officer in the Canadian senior living sector. In her blog series, Dr. Rhonda Collins offers helpful advice for seniors to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

The holiday season is exciting, but it can also create stress, anxiety and depression for many people. There are more activities to do in addition to your regular schedule: shopping, wrapping gifts, attending parties and celebrations, baking and cooking, and so much more. All these take time and energy. Remember, if you are feeling overwhelmed, alone, isolated or sad, make sure to speak to somebody.
“Holidays can be overwhelming and doing too much can lead to fatigue and stress.”
People often have very high expectations of themselves and their families, and some people have families who can really test their patience: who remembers National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation? And we haven’t even begun to talk about money. Last Christmas, an Angus Reid survey of 1,512 Canadians showed that more than half of respondents said they would spend more than they budgeted, and two-thirds felt holiday spending was “out of control”.

So, this begs the question, how can you reduce your stress and enjoy the holidays with your friends and family?


Some of the stress is created by waiting too long to begin things like shopping, baking and meal preparation. Make a budget and have a clear plan for what you want to accomplish. Schedule days in your calendar for shopping, baking, wrapping, decorating and even spending time with friends. Plan menus in advance and make shopping lists. Learn how to say no and how to ask for help.

Holidays can be overwhelming and doing too much can lead to fatigue and stress. When you can, ask family and friends for help. Often, they will be delighted to have a role to play, and this allows you to set a balance for how much you can take on while maintaining good spirits and energy.

And remember, you don’t have to attend every function.


Open a holiday savings account and deposit into it each month, then plan a budget and stick to it. This advice might be too late for this year, but there’s no time like the present to start planning for Christmas 2019!

Include the cost of entertaining and decorating in your budget; not just gifts. Talk to your family about setting limits and think of alternatives to buying for everybody. Examples include a Secret Santa where each person only purchases for one other person by drawing names from a hat. You could donate to a charity instead of buying gifts. Perhaps consider doing something instead of buying a gift: go to a restaurant, a movie, live theatre. People always remember experiences more than things. If you have a talent – baking, knitting, painting or crafting, for example – you could give handmade gifts.

Finally, if money is a real issue, consider talking to family about adopting a no-gifts policy. The real value of the holidays is spending quality time with people. Spend some time doing things that don’t cost anything. Many towns have holiday lights tours, parades, outdoor markets, candlelit strolls, skating, concerts and more.

Health and Wellness

Take care of yourself by continuing healthy habits like regular physical activity, healthy eating and sleep hygiene. Eat a healthy snack before heading to a party to avoid overdoing it on sweets, but don’t deprive yourself of something you enjoy.

Set realistic expectations. We all want the holidays to be perfect but sometimes they won’t be and that’s okay. Find the joy of the season by focusing on the things you are thankful for and share these with the people you love.
Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer of Revera
By Dr. Rhonda Collins
Dr. Rhonda Collins brings passion and expertise in memory care, dementia, falls prevention and clinical quality improvement to the role of Revera’s Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Collins is a family physician with a certificate of added competence in Care of the Elderly from the College of Family Physicians of Canada.