Happ(ier) Holidays: Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

December 17th, 2014

This time of year is filled with work parties, family gatherings, gift exchanges, end-of-year deadlines, traffic, busy stores, and on and on and on. In the midst of this fullness of life, some of us are inclined to take on “just one more thing,” such as buying one more present, finishing one more job at work, or attending one more holiday party. This disease of more is exhausting, and leaves us less room for appreciating our families, our health, and our need for rest.

The Ontario Psychological Association (OPA) published a list of tips for handling holiday stress. I’ve copied the OPA’s suggestions below.

All the best this holiday season… see if you can do one LESS thing before the middle of January.

  1. Take time for yourself. Taking care of yourself helps you to take better care of others in your life. Go for a long walk or take time out to read or listen to your favorite music. By slowing down you will actually have more energy to accomplish your goals.
  2. Volunteer. Many charitable organizations face new challenges as a result of the ongoing economic downturn. Find a local charity, such as a soup kitchen or a shelter, where you and your family can volunteer together. Helping others who are less fortunate can put hardships in perspective and can build stronger family relationships.
  3. Set realistic expectations. No holiday celebration is perfect; view inevitable missteps as opportunities to demonstrate flexibility and resilience. Create a realistic budget and remind your children that the holidays aren’t about expensive gifts. 
  4. Remember what’s important. Commercialism can overshadow the true sentiment of the holiday season. When your holiday expense list is running longer than your monthly budget, scale back. Remind yourself that family, friends and the relationships in our lives are what matter most.
  5. Seek support. Talk about stress related to the holidays with your friends and family. Getting things out in the open can help you navigate your feelings and work toward a solution. If you continue to feel overwhelmed, consider talking with a professional such as a psychologist to help you develop coping strategies and better manage your stress. A psychologist has the skills and professional training to help people learn to managestress and cope more effectively with life problems, using techniques based on best available research and their clinical skills and experience, and taking into account an individual’s unique values, goals and circumstances.

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Did you know…

One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.


A psychologist can help.

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