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Keeping Holiday Stress in Check

From changing leaves to pumpkins, to turkeys, then candles, strings of lights and decorated trees, our fall days blur into winter, leaving carefree summer a distant memory.

These holiday makers seem to pull many of us along at a rapid pace, leaving little time to actually enjoy the new turkey dressing recipe or notice the beautiful candles that make your home glow.  Holidays and stress used to be two very separate words, but now are more commonly heard together in response to “How’s it going?” this time of year.  Because you could by now from years of experience recite the causes of holiday stress, let’s look at something more helpful.  Let’s make sure we know even more about skills for coping with stress this time of year and even beyond.

  • You are officially given permission to not create the perfect holiday.  Keep your expectations manageable to deliver and to be enjoyed by those you are planning for.  Instead of trying to “do it all” this year, make your plan, then write down that oh-I-have-to-do-this-now!-idea on a list for consideration next year.
  • Challenge yourself to participate in activities and interests that are free.  Take a walk in a new place.  Check your community calendar for free events.  Attend a school holiday program or go caroling with neighbors.
  • Make this the time to surround yourself with positive influences – caring friends, movies that lift your spirits, and music that calms or perhaps makes you feel like dancing!
  • Do something for someone else.  Make eye contact; reach out your hand, and more.  Better yet, add doing something that only you know about and congratulate yourself for “getting in the spirit.”

Now that you get the idea, add a few of your own coping skills to the list.  You know you are making one anyway, but for next year, right?!

Karen Rice is a licensed clinical social worker and the clinical supervisor at Virginia Home for Boys and Girls (VHBG). She developed the clinical services program on campus and specializes in the treatment of children, teens and families. Karen has been married for 26 years and is the proud mother of two young women.

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