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Holiday Stress: 3 Ways to Cope this Holiday Season

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Jill FitzGerald MSW, LICSW



Is holiday music already permeating your favorite radio station? Have you begun to notice the mass exodus to your local mall on Saturday mornings? Maybe you are wondering why Home Depot and Lowes now resemble Santa’s Village? As the holiday season quickly approaches, so can holiday stress. And stress can cause just about anyone to feel off balance. For those of you that may also be dealing with additional stressors, such as feeling the loss of a loved one, managing a marital separation, or unemployment, this time of year can be very challenging. One important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Many people feel an increase in both anxiety and depressive symptoms at this time of year. The good news? There are many ways to cope with (and perhaps even enjoy a few laughs) this holiday season.

1). Take Care of YOU. 
Make yourself a priority this holiday season. Take a local yoga class, a long walk outside, or read that book that has been sitting on the shelf since last December. Engaging in a regular self-care routine is an important part of one’s overall wellness. Not sure what you find relaxing? Try out some new activities and determine what works for you. Make relaxation just as important as brushing your teeth or putting gas in your car. Participating in daily relaxation practices, even if only for a few minutes, can greatly improve your ability to manage stress.

2). Identify YOUR goals for the holiday season. 
Feeling pulled in a million directions? Feeling pressure to accept all holiday invitations? Or, perhaps this is your first holiday after the passing of a loved one? Having a conversation with yourself about what you want or need is a great place to start. If there are places or situations you know cause stress, think about how you might approach these beforehand. Identifying triggers for anxiety and/or depression, and developing a plan for how to manage these is an important step in improving your overall ability to deal with holiday stress.

3). Allow for people to support YOU.  
When people feel an increase of anxiety and/or depression, they can retreat and at times isolate themselves as a means to cope. Keeping yourself connected to your support network will allow for an avenue to discuss feelings and receive support as needed. Not sure who your support network would be? Enlist the help of a trained therapist who is sensitive to the additional stressors associated with this time of year. (visit www.www.fca-andover.com for more information). Making a plan for how to stay connected to supportive people in your life is an important part of managing holiday stress.

Using the above mentioned skills as a part of your overall holiday stress management plan will likely not eradicate all stressors, but it may provide you with a more grounded and balanced place to approach them from. For additional resources on this topic, please visit: