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The holidays can be a stressful time. Traveling, family, spending lots of money… It’s no wonder many of us have mixed feelings around the holidays. We’re looking forward to the celebrations, but we know our stress levels are going to spike.

Dealing with Holiday Stress

How can we deal with holiday stress in a positive way? How can we not only make it through the holidays, but actually enjoy ourselves in the process? Here are the ABC’s for dealing with holiday stress:

  1. Acceptance. The first key for dealing with holiday stress has to do with acceptance. The reality is that the holidays will involve some stress. That’s just the way it is. If we want a holiday season with absolutely zero stress, we are bound to be disappointed. The fact is that many activities around the holidays involve some level of stress. Spending time with family can be wonderful, but there are also things that frustrate us about our family members. Traveling home is nice, but there are weather delays that can’t be controlled. It’s a good idea to accept that some stress is inevitable, and work on your capacity to handle a certain level of stress. What about your holiday stress might you need to accept this year?
  2. Boundaries. The second key for dealing with holiday stress is boundaries. Boundaries involve limits you make with other people so you can take care of yourself and get your needs met. For example, maybe your family wants you to come home for a week over the holidays, but you know that a week would be too stressful for you. If you set a boundary and came home for three days instead, the holiday stress might be more manageable for you. Another example: Let’s say you generally come home for the holidays and stay at your parent’s house. But you know this living arrangement leads to high levels of stress—maybe last year Thanksgiving ended with a fight between your spouse and parents. This year, you could set a boundary and stay at a hotel. By having your own living space, the holiday stress might be more manageable for you. What is one boundary you could make this year that might reduce your holiday stress?
  3. Coping. Coping involves activities you do when you are feeling stressed that help calm you down. Coping is a way to take care of yourself. For example, maybe exercise is something you do for self-care each day. But when you’re traveling around the holidays, it gets pushed to the side. It might be important to find ways to exercise, even when you are traveling. Other popular coping strategies include talking with a friend, journaling, meditation, relaxation, reading, praying, and seeing a counselor. What is one coping strategy that works best for you?

Discussion: What is one thing you could take from the ABC’s to help you better deal with holiday stress this year?

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