Handling Holiday Stress

Normally, right around the time when the holidays arrive, stress and anxiety isn’t too far behind.

Although most people associate Christmas and the holiday season with presents, parties, family, and friends, the holidays can also be a time of stress and even pain. Depression persists for some during the holidays, and for those who do not have family or friends, the holidays can be downright lonely and isolating.

One way to handle holiday stress is to employ Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques. In short, MBSR involves bringing a person’s attention to the present moment. Many times, our minds race, and our thoughts move from one to the next in an instant. Generally speaking, mindfulness is about pausing and refocusing one’s attention – to move from anxiety and stress to calm and understanding. Although MBSR is used in many contexts apart from reducing stress during the holidays, it can certainly be helpful during this time of the year.

Another (almost) unavoidable part of the holidays . . . dealing with family.

Arguments, past grievances, and disagreements – these all can add to stress for families. And, in concert with the holiday, concepts that may be applied here are patience, empathy, and thoughtful speech. To begin, patience works well when dealing with interpersonal conflict, which, of course, can take many different forms.

Empathy, too, has a role to play when handling holiday stress. Understanding another person’s perspective as well as their thoughts and feelings, can go a very long way in reducing conflict during the holidays. Many people simply want to be listened to and understood; empathy, then, can be a useful tool.

Finally, as mentioned above, thoughtful speech remains important. Even if we are upset, we don’t always need to say what’s on our mind in the moment. Before speaking, we may want to actively listening to another person and pausing before talking. In Buddhism, for instance, this idea is called “right speech.” Our minds are constantly flowing like a river, and so too, sometimes, our speech does as well. Pausing and thinking can also go a long way in reducing conflict during the holidays.

Although there is no “magic bullet” to fix everything during the holidays, MBSR, patience, empathy, and thoughtful speech are good places to start. The holidays can be a time of peace and joy . . . they can also be a time of stress and anxiety for a lot of individuals. A look on the bright side reveals that there are tools that can be helpful in managing stress during the holidays.

Brooke Lamberti

Brooke Lamberti is a content writer based out of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Marywood University, and has prior career experience working in social work and domestic violence advocacy. She has a passion for writing and helping others.

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