Wellness Wednesday: Tips for coping with holiday stress

Posted at 7:28 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 21:28:27-05

SALT LAKE CITY - The holidays bring a lot of memories – family, parties, food, the gifts, and most likely some stress. While the hustle and bustle are a normal part of the holiday time routine – you still need to be cautious with keeping holiday stress in check, according to Dr. Travis Mickelson, associate medical director of mental health integration for Intermountain Healthcare.

The holidays engage our senses – with the lights, warmth, good smells and music for example - the background noise of everyday life becomes amplified, which can make us feel overwhelmed. It’s important to find time and a quiet space, even for a few minutes to take care of yourself.

There may be extra demands that are asked of you during the holiday season. It is important to know that it is OK to say “no, thank you” to a neighborhood party, to a get-together with friends, or to a volunteer request. This is showing grace for yourself, and that’s a good thing.

There are other ways to keep holiday stress in check. Techniques involving breathing, mindfulness and meditation can be helpful – even kids can learn them. When you are feeling frustrated, angry, sad or hurt - notice how you feel, accept and lean into it. Also, don’t keep it to yourself and talk about it with others.

Holiday stress doesn't just happen to adults adults. The holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of year for children as well. For kids, stress often comes from peers getting big, fancy gifts when they’re not. Sometimes, kids see this on social media, or when they return from the school break.

Tips to handle holiday stress in children:

  • Communication is key. Acknowledge your child's feelings and let them know that you understand that it can be difficult to not get the biggest most expensive gift.
  • Parents, remember that you don’t have to go broke to prove you love somebody. It’s OK to look for other opportunities to connect with your children over the holidays.
    • Take a break from social media. Sometimes, the perfect images are staged, yet these images can make us feel excluded, or that our lives are somehow not as good as others. Turning off social media can be a freeing experience.

Grief During the Holidays
Holiday rituals can activate feelings of loss or grief when we’ve lost a loved one. It’s OK to grieve. We don’t have to put on a happy face when we feel sad or overwhelmed.

Give yourself permission to decline activities that feel overwhelming. Pick and choose the things you have the energy for. People still love you even if you don't meet their expectations.

It can also be cathartic to help others during the holiday season. Holidays are hard for everybody. Little things mean a lot – and can provides you with the perspective you need to make it a stress free and enjoyable time of year.