Holiday Stress

The holiday season is upon us! Well, I suppose it has actually been upon us for several weeks at this point- it seems to come earlier and earlier each year. Whether or not the holiday season holds any personal significance for you, it is hard to deny the impact that this time of year has on many people.

As I discussed in a previous post, many events, even those positive in nature, can bring with them elements of stress or discomfort. This is a sentiment I hear echoed by many clients during this time of year- on the one hand, they look forward to gathering with friends or family, participating in traditions, and taking some time to recharge before the new year. On the other hand, they dread uncomfortable conversations, the high expectations associated with creating a "perfect" holiday season, or the family dynamics that have stood the test of time and resurface when everyone comes together. 

Here are a couple things to keep in mind as we wrap up this last month of the year and head into 2018.

1.     The only thing you have control over is yourself.

Your feelings, your choices, your thoughts. Yes, I know it feels like it would just be so much easier if so-and-so could change- unfortunately, you do not have the power to make that decision for others. So take control over what you can! You can decide how to engage with others; you can choose how to respond in those difficult moments; and you can choose the experiences on which you choose to focus your attention and energy.

2.     Maintain (or start) that gratitude practice.

More and more, gratitude has become a buzz word. A gratitude practice may not be a novel idea, especially during this time of year; perhaps you already have a long standing practice, or have been toying with the idea of putting one in place. How you choose to structure this practice is up to you, but work to make it a consistent part of your day. You can write it down, incorporate it into your end of day discussion with friends or family, or verbalize the gratitude you feel towards others throughout the day. Refocusing your attention towards moments of gratitude throughout the day can help you cope with the difficult and stressful moments that you may also encounter.

3. Continue to practice self care.

It is so easy to throw routine out the window during this time of year. While you may experience a shift in your usual schedule this month, make an effort to keep some things consistent. Make sure you are giving yourself sufficient time to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This may mean getting enough sleep, continuing healthy eating habits, exercising, talking to a friend or therapist, or taking time to engage in an activity that brings you joy. This may also mean declining invitations or saying "no" to certain requests- set realistic expectations for what you are and are not able to accomplish so that you do not burn yourself out!

To learn more or to book an appointment, contact me via telephone or email.

Brenna Burke, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Santa Clarita, CA. She provides individual psychotherapy and couples counseling. Information provided through this website is for informational purposes only. It does not create a therapist-client relationship and does not replace clinical assessment or professional consultation.