How to destress after holiday shopping in the age of COVID-19

Holiday shopping taking its toll on you (like everything else in 2020)? Destress with these fun and relaxing activities.

Amanda Capritto
3 min read
Angela Lang/CNET

There's just something special about the holidays: People seem happier and more generous, the weather feels nicer and everything looks a little brighter. But with all the holiday cheer comes loads of holiday shopping, which can seriously take a toll on mind and body.

And in 2020, more stress is the last thing anyone needs. I mean, we've all battled the very real shock of a viral pandemic, extended lockdowns and self-quarantines, an insane presidential election, raging wildfires, a record-breaking hurricane season, and so much more. Need I go on, though? 

I probably don't need to convince anyone that braving the mall isn't the best idea (for your stress levels or for COVID-19 prevention efforts), but even shopping online can take its toll on us mentally. Seriously. It's so hard to navigate the endless sales, special deals, door-busters and new product announcements -- unless you have CNET on your side, that is. 

Next time you log out of Amazon feeling drained from virtual holiday shopping or return from a hectic shopping trip at the mall, indulge yourself in one of these relaxing, oh-so-soothing self-care activities. And here's our complete guide to celebrating Thanksgiving in 2020, given all the challenges from the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more: How to feel less lonely if you can't visit family for the holidays

1. Take a bath or hot shower

Go ahead. Run a bath and make it all pretty for Instagram. You deserve to take the bath and show off the meticulously placed rose petals, bubbles and glass of wine you won't touch until you get the photo. Add a face mask (no, not the pandemic kind) or your favorite book for extra self-care points. 

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2. Go for a run or lift weights

There's no shortage of proof that exercise makes us happier. Moving your body releases all sorts of feel-good endorphins that improve your mood, and the act itself makes you feel strong, fit and productive. Some experts even say exercise can make us smarter, so head out on that next sweat sesh knowing that you might just come away with a better plan for your next bout of online holiday shopping.

3. Get outside

If hitting the gym is the last thing you want to do (or if your gym is still closed due to the novel coronavirus), consider getting outside for an easy hike or walk. Spending some time in nature can chill you out and help you decompress. Really -- forest bathing is a thing, and you should try it.


Doesn't this look serene? Getting outside to a quiet, green space can help you wind down after a long bout of holiday shopping.

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4. Take a nap

Sometimes, all you need (or want) is a good nap. An afternoon snooze, if taken correctly, can recharge you for a happy and productive evening. 

5. Make a cozy drink

Hot cocoa, a homemade latte, warm herbal tea, mulled wine… Whichever suits your fancy, a steaming cup of something tasty can erase feelings of stress and anxiousness. Light a candle and curl up on the couch with a weighted blanket for ultimate coziness. 

6. Paint, draw or knit

Express your feelings creatively. Painting, drawing, knitting and other creative endeavors can help you let off some steam, plus you end up with a creation you can be proud of!

woman knitting red and cream-colored stocking for the holidays

Letting your creative juices flow is super therapeutic, and you'll end up with something awesome that you made.

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7. Meditate

Meditation is known to reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate depression and improve sleep and memory. Some research even suggests that meditation can improve physical ailments, including pain and high blood pressure -- two more reasons to ohm and ahh for a few moments after holiday shopping.  

8. Turn on your diffuser

Essential oils certainly smell nice, and the right scent may help you wind down after a long day of pushing carts. A beautifully designed essential oil diffuser makes it all the more exciting. Just be sure to know the risks of certain essential oils for you and your pets.

9. Bake some holiday goodies

Who doesn't love a Santa-shaped sugar cookie? Chances are you and all your family and friends do love holiday cookies. Baking offers a productive and creative way to get your mind off of holiday stress, so whip up a batch of goodies to share with friends and family (or to eat yourself, we're not judging you).

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.