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Don't Let Stress Ruin the Holidays

Monday, December 18, 2023

By Marci Stevens, M.S., LMFT Candidate

Edmond Family Counseling

The holidays can bring about a mix of emotions for many. For some people, it can bring feelings of loneliness, sadness, and loss. Seeing family and friends can be a time of joy and excitement or bring feelings of sorrow and disappointments.

How many times have families gathered and someone reverts to that 10-year-old arguing with parents and siblings. Old feelings can creep back up and bring about emotions of hurt, disappointment, and difficult times.

Feeling down or anxious is not unusual at Christman time. All the demands of the season can cause a great deal of stress. These feelings can be intensified for those who have experienced a loss.

The reality is Christmas can bring about as much stress as joy. That is okay. It is important to remember to take time for us and try to manage the stress in healthy ways.

How can that be done? One thing is to be honest with ourselves and let go of idealistic expectations and everything being perfect. Be honest about how much time and energy we have. Be honest about the finances available and set a budget to avoid overspending. Being honest can harvest more peace and joy during the Christmas season.

Pick and choose the social obligations you attend. Ask yourself questions about events you want to attend vs. those you feel compelled to attend. Allow yourself the freedom to set boundaries.

During the stress of the Christmas season, learn to practice self-compassion. It is important to remember pain is a part of the human experience and it can remind us to be gentle and tender toward ourselves, leading us to a place of kindness and care. Think about how you are talking to yourself and practice using the same talk you would use to talk to a beloved friend. We can forget to give ourselves the same support we extend to others so easily during difficult times. Practice extending grace to yourself. If you start to feel stress or anxiety sneak into your day, take time to walk away and take part in a pleasurable activity or try mindfulness approaches to bring you back to the present moment. Maybe you need to just take the time to breathe deeply and allow yourself to slowly exhale letting the stress and anxiety float away with each breath.

Try and keep in mind, Christmas shouldn’t revolve around the gifts received but the memories made. Take time to enjoy the small moments that might be missed and try not to allow stress to overtake the Christmas season.

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