Ways to Thrive During the Holidays


Ways to Thrive During the Holidays

Happy December to you all! The Christmas countdown has begun, which always brings about some elements of joy and stress. As you enter this month I want to encourage you to be mindful and aware of what triggers stress for you and focus on a way or two to find peace this season. Stress is very common this time of year and it is so important to identify where your stress is coming from so you can manage it before you feel like everything is spinning out of control. Stress can be a powerful thing that not only affects us emotionally, but also physically.

110 million people die of stress related illnesses each year. That's 7 people, every 2 seconds.

Some common triggers of stress during the holidays are:

1. Over commitment (office parties, church parties, friends parties, too many things, and they can even be GOOD things)

2. Financial strain (spending more than you can on gifts or on holiday stuff, dresses for parties, décor, and not to mention the birthdays that are close to Christmas)

3. Grief over a loss or death (a death or a relational loss, job loss, move, major change in health, or grief over not being where you thought you would be in life)

4. Increased home or work demands (parties for your family, office staff, end of year mailings and more events)

5. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (happens right about November with the time change, people often wonder why they start to feel so low or lack motivation)

6. Extra guests in your home (are you an extrovert or introvert?)

7. Toxic family (We are not born knowing healthy ways to express and handle our feelings. When there are abusive relationships, people unwilling to follow boundaries, or unknowing of how to express feelings in a productive and healthy way this can bring tremendous stress on a person and a family system.)

8. Unhappy memories (many traumas occur during breaks from school, deaths, breakups, divorces and much more)

9. Feeling out of control (things just happening)

10. Unrealistic expectations (we must see all our family on Christmas day, there is only one perfect gift and I must find it, I have to always say “yes” when asked to help with something, exercise and healthy eating can go on the pause until the new year)

How to Combat Holiday Stress:

1. Set realistic expectations with yourself and family. DO NOT expect miracles, make an exit plan if needed for parties or family visits.

2. Pace yourself. You cannot do everything and see everybody, pick something each day that is important and make sure it is realistic to do and BE flexible if it is not.

3. Monitor your food and alcohol consumption. Our bodies crave sugar when stressed to calm down our stress hormone, cortisol. Deal with your triggers or you may have a tough time fighting off emotional eating.

4. If you are lonely, volunteer.

5. Make new traditions. If you are tired and stressed by the old, try something new.

6. Share responsibilities, ASK for HELP!

7. Connect with others, do not isolate, be intentional.

8. Exercise, don’t skip out, this is so helpful to combat stress as endorphins are released, I don’t know about you but I always feel better when I move.

9. Be in the moment. Practice mindfulness, try yoga, BREATHE, and pray

10. Take time for yourself and be kind to yourself. What do you enjoy? What are you giving yourself this holiday season?

11. Seek support (friends, counselors, pastors). People care and your stress isn’t too small compared to others.

12. If you struggle with SAD, there are bright lights (Phototherapy), vitamins or medication that can help.

13. Change your thoughts. This is one of the best ways to feel better, find better beliefs about your expectations, ask for help if you feel stuck (contact me).

I pray you may experience peace this Holiday season, and keep in mind why you celebrate. For me it is because that babe, born in a stable, came to be my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace, and He can be yours too. Don’t let your stress of the season overshadow the reason.

Isaiah 9:6 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. _________________________________________________________________________________

Sarah Andrews, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist #77394 Website: www.sarahandrewsmft.com