Mental Health

Managing stress over the holidays

December 15, 2018

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The holidays can be a time for celebration, as well as a time for stress and anxiety. Recognizing trigger points around financial strain, gift giving and family gatherings will help manage expectations and stress and increase holiday cheer.

“Anxieties are heightened over the holidays for children and adults,” said Kim Jacobowitz, CARES Northwest. “For adults, it’s everything from holiday shopping and preparing for guest to stressful family dynamics. For kids, it’s mostly reacting to the stress they feel from the adults in their lives. Hopefully, having some tools to manage feelings and set boundaries earlier will help everyone enjoy this time of year more.”

Strengthen social connections - We know that strong, supportive relationships help us manage all kinds of challenges. Accepting help and support from those who care about us can help alleviate stress.

Take time for yourself  - You may feel pressured to be everything to everyone. But remember that you’re only one person and can only accomplish certain things. Sometimes self-care is the best thing you can do — others will benefit when you’re feeling less stressed. Reflect on aspects of your life that give you joy; go for a long walk; get a massage; or take time to listen to your favorite music or read a new book. All of us need some time to recharge our batteries. Be mindful and focus on the present rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future.

Learn to say no - Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Family, friends, and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. Have realistic expectations for yourself so you can enjoy the unscheduled time.

Exercise - Remember that mental stress can be relieved by physical exercise.  Engaging in exercise changes our physiological functioning.

Seek support - Talk about your worries and concerns with close friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution.

Play - Don’t be too busy to really play. Play with your kids, your dog, your partner. Adults need playtime, too! Think about what’s fun for you and make it happen.


Click here to learn more about CARES Northwest.

(Thank you to CARES Northwest staff for contributing to this article.)

Managing stress over the holidays

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