Do you feel more stressed, depressed, overwhelmed or sad during the holidays? You might also feel the sense of joy and peace sprinkled in at times, yet there is a sense of wanting to get through it. Maybe they bring up a sense of grief and loss because they remind you of losing a loved one. The holiday season can be a time of happiness and gratitude and a time of loss and stress. Below are some helpful hints to help manage the stress.

  1. Focus on what matters – Remember what is really important during the holidays. Is it the gifts or the meaning behind the celebration? Is it having the house perfectly decorated or giving to someone in need? Is it about giving the most expensive gift or is it about taking the time to personally write a poem or note to someone you love? It’s about the love in your heart and not about the stuff that truly matters. Maybe shifting the focus from not having enough to just showing up and being you is truly all that really matters. Giving from the heart instead of giving because you think it’s the right thing to do, or listening more and talking less can be the best gifts. When we get clear about what is the most important piece of Christmas, which is love, it makes room for more joy.
  2. Set healthy boundaries – Determine what you want to commit to doing and then say “no.” There are some things that we do because we think it’s the right thing to do. Do you say “yes” to everything out of guilt or because you truly want to do it. There needs to be a balance. It’s okay to say it is not going to work this year. When someone asks you to do something, tell them you will think about it. Take the time to really dig deep and figure out what makes the most sense for you and your family. This might mean it doesn’t work to travel to a family function or take on another holiday party this year. Or, maybe, you decide you are not going to send out Christmas cards because it creates too much stress.
  3. Reach out – If you are feeling lonely or sad, pick two people to connect with and share how you feel. It can be so powerful to share what you are going through because it might help them too. Vulnerability leads to freedom and happiness. Volunteer and give your time to an organization that is close to your heart. Maybe you love animals or children. Make the time to give back and it will fill your heart.

Kristen Boice, M.A., LMFT, EMDR-Trained