Whether it’s for a day or a week, a few relatives or the whole family, acting as holiday host is a lot of work — both physically and, in many cases, emotionally. We all love our families, but some take more effort than others.

Bottom line? Unapologetically take care of yourself this holiday season. Here are some ways to keep holiday stress at bay, even with a house full of people.

Speak up

Moorea Seal, founder of local boutique Moorea Seal and author of the recently released “52 Lists for Calm,” says that it’s crucial to speak up in times of tension. “A very important thing to lower stress is to be very honest with yourself and others about your needs,” she says. 

That may mean asking for assistance with tasks or having a clear ending time for a party so you can decompress (and, hey, if you’re having fun, just push it back an hour, Seal says). ‘Tis the season for boundaries — but you have to voice them. 

When houseguests start stressing you out, step outside for a quick walk around the block or an invigorating hike in nature. (Getty Images)
When houseguests start stressing you out, step outside for a quick walk around the block or an invigorating hike in nature. (Getty Images)

Take a breath

When things get to be too much, a tried-and-true aid is getting some fresh air. Clear your head and step away from the chaos for a bit. Throw on your coat and go for a walk around the neighborhood. Head to your local coffee spot for some comforting cocoa or bring a hot beverage along in a thermos. Listen to a podcast or music, or nix the gadgets and take in the sights and sounds around you. 

If you have a longer stretch of time, grab your sneakers and go for a run, bike ride or close-in hike. Sweat out those worries on the trail and come back feeling refreshed. 


Fake some time

Want to get out, but the weather is not on your side? Running errands is always a good excuse to take some space. Hit the grocery store for those items you really “need,” then do something for you, such as grabbing a beer at a local pub, reading a good book over a croissant at a bakery, or calling a sympathetic friend.  

Get your rest

As for maintaining sanity while at home with a crowd, be sure to carve out moments for yourself. Repeat after us: Protect your sleep at all costs! Being tired adds an additional layer of difficulty when it comes to the holidays, as emotions are closer to the surface when we don’t get enough sleep. 

Arden Clise, president of Clise Etiquette and author of “Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth: Essential Etiquette for Professional Success,” suggests having coffee and cereal available so guests can help themselves in the morning, letting you sleep longer. “Hosting people can be exhausting, especially if you try to do everything yourself,” she says. “Take the pressure off by having a few do-it-yourself meals where you put food items out and guests make their own lunch, or even leftovers for dinner.”

Take a mini spa moment

When everyone has gone to bed, dive into some self-care spa time. Apply a sheet mask — K Banana (U District) has a fun array starting at $3 — and roll on Lord Jones’ High-CBD Body Oil ($65 at lordjones.com) for glowy skin and deep relaxation.