In this On Purpose episode, Jay Shetty prepares the listeners for the approaching holiday season, a time when many people experience heightened levels of anxiety and stress.

This time of year can be emotionally charged for various reasons, including family dynamics, financial concerns, losing loved ones, and the pressure to make crucial decisions for the current and upcoming year. 

In addition, the holiday season often entails attending numerous parties and social gatherings, which can add to the feeling of being overwhelmed. To make coping easier, Jay offers ten ways to deal with the stress that this time of the year brings.

Holiday Stress

Feeling stressed and anxious during this period is normal and okay. However, it would help if you didn't ignore or avoid these feelings because doing so can worsen them. Instead, Jay Shetty suggests acknowledging and validating your stress and anxiety. These are signals from your mind and body, attempting to get your attention and warning you about something.

A study1 indicates that 66% of people feel more stressed during the holiday season. The top sources of stress include financial concerns (28%), family gatherings (21%), traveling and planning (18%), and disrupted routines (18%). 

One challenge during the holiday season is the dissonance between the expectation of joy and relaxation and the reality of potential stress and tension. Therefore, reframing your mindset about the holidays is essential. Instead of expecting perfection and positivity, try approaching this time with a more open and adaptable perspective.

Saying "No"

Setting boundaries during the holiday season is crucial to recognizing the power of saying "no." Disrupted routines and the pressure to attend every party or event can lead to unnecessary stress and discomfort.

Jay Shetty explains that it's perfectly acceptable to decline invitations without seeking permission or validation from others. Many people tend to agree to attend events they don't want to go to, leading to a cycle of stress and guilt. They may initially agree out of a sense of obligation. Still, as the event approaches, they experience increasing anxiety about how to back out gracefully. This pattern can result in either reluctantly attending or feeling guilty about canceling at the last moment.

Jay Shetty suggests being honest and open about your intentions to break this cycle. He shares his approach to communicating with friends, inviting them to holiday parties. He expresses gratitude for the invitation and explains his reasons for not being able to attend. This proactive and sincere communication allows you to feel better about your decision. It shows the other person that you value and appreciate them.

Understand that saying "no" doesn't have to be a rejection or a closed door. It can be a gentle, respectful communication of your limitations and priorities. Do this early to avoid unnecessary stress for an extended period. Waiting until the last moment only prolongs the discomfort and may lead to feeling worse about the decision. Moreover, prioritize events and parties that genuinely matter to you and do not succumb to pressure to attend those that don't align with your preferences or schedule.

Enough Time Off

Jay Shetty also emphasizes the importance of paid time off during the holiday season. He states that more than four in ten U.S. workers utilize only some of their paid time off.2 Many employees have various reasons for not taking time off, such as feeling they don't need more, worrying about falling behind at work or feeling guilty about their coworkers having to pick up the slack.

While these reasons are noble, neglecting to take time off prevents you from recharging. With proper rest and rejuvenation, your productivity at work increases despite spending more time there. Burnout and exhaustion can also negatively affect your relationships with coworkers, potentially leading to mistakes and misunderstandings.

Healthy self-care is vital during the holidays, especially when everyone is winding down. Jay Shetty suggests that this is an ideal time to take more time off to focus on refueling and feeling better. Many people spend their time off at events and with others, feeling they haven't had a chance to rejuvenate. Therefore, Jay encourages individuals to set aside time to relax, appreciate the moment, and avoid putting excessive pressure on themselves.

Mind Your Consumption

Research indicates that holidays are often associated with abundant food and alcohol consumption, particularly at festive gatherings. A study3 reveals that 79% of respondents admit to following a less strict diet during the holidays, with a notable increase in the consumption of sweets and desserts (26%).

Like many others, Jay Shetty acknowledges that he enjoys indulging during this time. However, he cautions against the negative consequences of excessive indulgence. These can weaken immunity and lead to a feeling of unwellness. Particularly in cold climates, the combination of unhealthy eating habits and adverse weather conditions can leave individuals feeling rundown at the end of the year, affecting the start of the new year as they recover.

The trick is not to abstain from enjoying holiday treats but to incorporate healthy habits and meals between festive events. Jay Shetty shares his daily practice of taking vitamin C, precisely one with pulp, which he describes as almost like a drinkable snack. He encourages the listeners to prioritize their health during the holiday season by including essential vitamins such as D, C, and B12, especially if they take a basic multivitamin. Balancing enjoyment and maintaining healthy habits can ensure a more enjoyable and physically resilient holiday season.

Managing Expectations

Jay Shetty's fourth piece of advice centers on managing family triggers and conflicts during the holiday season. He recognizes that family gatherings can often bring together individuals with differing views, unresolved issues, or tensions from the past. These triggers can lead to uncomfortable situations or arguments.

Jay's approach to dealing with family triggers is to be proactive and prepared. He suggests identifying the family members likely to trigger you and acknowledging their potential to create tension. Instead of hoping these triggers won't occur, he recommends expecting them. By mentally preparing for these interactions, you can avoid being caught off guard and surprised or overwhelmed.

You may want to develop strategies for handling these triggers effectively. Some include smiling, spending time with other family members, and refraining from arguing with the individuals who trigger you. Focus on enjoying your time with those family members with whom you interact positively.

Do As You Please

Jay Shetty suggests prioritizing your desires and wishes during the holiday season. Many people engage in activities or attend events simply because others expect them to do so. Therefore, he encourages the listeners to break away from this pattern and focus on what brings them joy and fulfillment during the holidays.

The holiday season offers a unique opportunity for relaxation and self-indulgence, as it is a time when many worldwide take a break simultaneously. Jay Shetty urges the audience to take full advantage of this time off by doing what genuinely makes them happy, whether participating in holiday festivities, spending quality time with loved ones, or simply enjoying personal downtime.

Set a Budget

Jay Shetty's sixth tip for the holiday season is to create a budget. While it can be tempting to avoid making a budget because people might prefer to avoid confronting their spending habits, Jay strongly advises against this approach. He encourages the listeners to set a budget proactively.

Jay Shetty suggests creating a list of all the gifts and holiday decorations you plan to purchase; doing so in advance will prevent future regrets. By setting a budget, you can avoid overspending and the subsequent realization that you should have been more cautious. Conversely, it also contains the feeling of having underspent and wishing you had been more generous.

Verbalize Your Wishes

Jay Shetty emphasizes the importance of clear communication regarding holiday gift preferences. He advises against expecting loved ones to guess your desires and encourages individuals to express their wishes openly. 

Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment when unwrapping gifts. Instead, Jay recommends letting people know what you want, as relying on others to read your mind or replicate the Santa Claus experience becomes less practical as we age. He advocates for transparent communication to ensure gift-givers and recipients have a fulfilling and enjoyable holiday season.

Curate Your Engagements

In his eighth tip, Jay Shetty suggests a balanced approach to the holiday season. He acknowledges the standard advice to "be present" during this time but emphasizes the need for planning. Both aspects are equally crucial for a fulfilling holiday experience. 

Jay Shetty encourages listeners to examine their calendars, consider their commitments, and make thoughtful plans to enjoy the holidays without becoming overly tired or overwhelmed. By balancing being present at the moment and planning, you can make the most of your holiday season while maintaining your physical and emotional well-being.

Time to Reflect

Jay Shetty encourages the listeners to make time for reflection during the holiday season. It is essential to take a moment to reflect on the year and contemplate critical lessons learned, goals achieved, and the meaning derived from the past year's experiences. Jay suggests considering what to add, subtract, and multiply in the upcoming year. 

He encourages the audience to identify things they want to incorporate or enhance in their lives, elements they wish to eliminate or reduce, and areas where they want to increase their focus and dedication. This is a thoughtful way to actively plan your personal growth and set intentions for the year ahead. It helps you make the most of the holiday season by preparing for a more meaningful and purposeful future.

Keep Up the Self-Improvement Practices

In his tenth and final tip, Jay Shetty advises against abandoning therapeutic and meditative practices during the holiday season. He acknowledges the tendency to neglect self-care routines, assuming it's a time to have fun and let loose. However, self-care is often needed the most during the holiday season. 

Jay Shetty acknowledges that not everything will go perfectly during the holidays. Still, he encourages listeners to revisit these strategies whenever needed to help manage stress and reconnect with a sense of well-being.

More From Jay Shetty

Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “10 Ways to Manage Stress and Anxiety During Holidays” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at

1Auray, Brianna. “Holiday Stress and Sleep in 2023: A Data Study.” Web log. Sleepopolis (blog), November 17, 2023.
2Dinesh, Shradha, and Kim Parker. “More than 4 in 10 U.S. Workers Don’t Take All Their Paid Time off .” Pew Research Center (blog), August 10, 2023.,all%20their%20paid%20time%20off&text=Some%2046%25%20of%20U.S.%20workers,recent%20Pew%20Research%20Center%20survey
3Abdulan IM, Popescu G, Maștaleru A, Oancea A, Costache AD, Cojocaru DC, Cumpăt CM, Ciuntu BM, Rusu B, Leon MM. Winter Holidays and Their Impact on Eating Behavior-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2023 Sep 28;15(19):4201. doi: 10.3390/nu15194201. PMID: 37836485; PMCID: PMC10574044. 

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