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  • 5 Ways to Cope with Emotional Stress during the Holidays

    Many of us associate the holidays with social gatherings, great food and positive memories. However, others may have a different perspective on the holiday season. Not only is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) more prevalent during the late fall and early winter months, but so is the reminder of loss of a loved one(s), potential financial strain or having to navigate family conflict.

    We need to remember that is absolutely normal to feel a sense of overwhelm, discomfort or sadness during the holiday season and it is important to be gentle with ourselves as we work to navigate and manage any emotions or feelings we may experience.

    First, we will discuss some of the common causes of holiday stress.

    Holiday stress can often begin with a large work load and so little time for self-care or family time. In this case, some may find it difficult to find time to take off and may struggle with work-life balance.

    Another common cause of holiday stress is navigating family or interpersonal conflict which may require boundary setting. Some family dynamics may be challenging and cause tension between family members which results in fuses being shorter when having extended family visit for long periods of time.

    Experiencing the loss of a loved one may bring up constant memories that serve as reminders of the loss and what is lacking during the holiday season.

    It is important to remember these painful feelings do not have to be navigated alone and it is completely okay to adopt new holiday traditions or rituals to enhance one’s wellbeing. Knowing when those difficult feelings are present is important to know when to reach out for help or participate in self-care time.

    Here are 5 coping skills to try when experiencing negative feelings during the holiday season:

    1.) Practicing nonjudgmental awareness of one’s emotions and feelings through mindfulness and meditation

    2.) Setting boundaries

    3.) Setting realistic expectations for others

    4.) Share feelings with a trusted therapist, friend or family member

    5.) Planning ahead to reduce anxiety or stress

    Other resources to help cope during Holidays:

    SAMHSA’s National Helpline

    800-662-HELP

    988 Crisis Line

    Text or Call 988

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