Freaked Out? Seven Ways to Handle Holiday Stress!

Freaked Out? Seven Ways to Handle Holiday Stress!

While the holidays are encroaching, this can be a time filled with joy…… and with stress, due to all the things to do, people to please, and activities.  It is a time where our self-care can easily get pushed aside or become virtually not existent. Which can leave us with an overwhelming list of New yYear’s resolutions because everything got cast aside in the previous months.  This year take back control and follow our list of holiday stress relievers!

  1. Breath – This may seem like an easy one, but one that we definitely do not consciously think about. We typically breath from our chest but when we are stressed and overwhelmed this can lead to hyperventilating or not being able to get enough oxygen.  We need to consciously think about breathing from our bellies.  When we breath from our bellies (or stomach) we are expanding the amount off air we put in and allowing our sympathetic nervous system to regulate and calm down.  One easy way to practice this is to lay on your back and make sure you can see your stomach rise and fall.


  1. Boundaries – While we may strive to make people happy during the holidays it is extremely important to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. So, what do healthy boundaries look like? It looks like being assertive and communicating what you need and do not need.  You can be assertive with also being polite.  If someone offers you a piece of the “must try pie,” it is actually okay to say no and share you have had your fill of sugar for the day or would like to try it in the future.  If your family is insisting on staying 3 extra days after they have already been at your house for a week, it is okay to say no and share you need your space, you can’t keep hosting, etc.


  1. Exercise – This may be something that gets pushed aside due to the amount of time that other tasks take up, but this is something that is crucial and will actually give you the extra energy you need to get everything done. Exercising will also provide you with endorphins (the happy hormone).  You don’t have to think about exercising as spending hours at the gym but think about where you can get it in when you can.  Maybe you have 20 minutes in the morning to do something and then another 20 minutes at night.  Maybe you are wanting to spend extra time with your furry friend and take them for an extra walk or run.  Whatever fits your needs and your schedule it will definitely benefit you.


  1. Set Realistic Expectations – This can look like realizing your list of a million things to get done, may need more time than expected or maybe prioritizing what is a must get done and what is something that is a bonus task. Setting realistic expectations also comes into play when thinking about relationships with family.  Sometimes we think the magic of the holidays will fix the fight from three months ago when in reality that may be something that comes up or maybe there needs to be a conversation that the fight is on pause until after the holidays.  This is a tough one to accept but will save heartache when a family member may not be as warm to you as you were expecting.


  1. Make Lists – While we may feel as though there is an overwhelming number of things to do making lists can help you organize what you need to do and sort out the different tasks. Being able to see it all at once may feel like a lot but can also help you prioritize what is important and what is not as important.  When you make a list, it can relieve your brain of stress and provide you with more brain power to focus on other things. This provides increased brain will power which will be helpful when your co-worker is offering you that second piece of pie.  When making a list it can also feel satisfying to cross things off the list which can help you feel as though you are making a dent in what you have to get done this holiday season.


  1. Ask for Help – While asking for help can be challenging at times it is also essential in order to not feel overwhelmed. Sometimes, we think to be the best ______ (insert your role here) we must do it all ourselves but that is something which is unrealistic and will just leave you feeling burnt out and not successful.  Asking for help can allow other people to feel important and that their role matters in completing the task at hand.  Asking for help from your children can allow them to feel apart of creating an important holiday and giving them a task can also provide them with something to keep busy while you continue to work on what you need to do.


  1. Take Time for Yourself – This may seem like an easy one but can actually be very hard to do during the year let alone during the holiday season. But with having time for yourself it provides you with rejuvenation, a better perspective, and an overall positive attitude.  This doesn’t have to be taking a whole day for yourself (although that would be amazing) but could look like even taking a few quiet moments to yourself every so often to recoup.  This may be walking out of the room during a heated family discussion, listening to some of your favorite music, or talking to a friend when feeling overwhelmed.


While you are giving during this season remember to also take back the holidays and to allow joy and peace once again.


If you or someone you know would like to learn more about stress management or have other mental health concerns please feel welcome to call Sarah Richards, MA, Registered Psychotherapist 720-923-2326 or click on our “Request Appointment” to discuss further.

Sarah Richards, MA, NCC is a registered psychotherapist working towards becoming a licensed professional counselor in Colorado. She studied international disaster psychology at the University of Denver and holds a master’s degree. Sarah’s clinical training has primarily been with children who have experienced trauma and childhood adversity. Much of her work has focused on childhood bereavement and how to support grieving children. She uses a trauma-informed care lens to support her clients and meets them where they are. She has experience working with children as young as three years old through young adulthood. She utilizes individual therapy, play therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.