Holiday Stress Busters

The holiday season can be a very stressful time. In fact, most mental health professionals find that the number of clients they see doubles, even triples, during this time. Dr. Renee provides holiday stress busters to help us cope and manage stress more effectively.

1) Remember to practice breathing techniques.

It sounds simple, but breathing correctly and starting a “breathing practice” is an instant stress buster. If you need a quick way to begin your breathing practice, visit for free downloads of simple breathing techniques.

2) Control what you can and forget the rest.

Planning ahead and organizing yourself can help reduce your anxiety. Reduce your anxiety over the things you CAN control. You cannot control how your Aunt Susie will act at the dinner table, or if Cousin Sally will like her gift, but you can organize yourself in effort to control your own anxiety.

3) Do not use or think the words “should,” “must” or “ought to be.”

Throw out other people’s expectations and fantasies of what a holiday “should be” and live out your own, or do what makes you happy. When I see clients who are depressed or anxious regarding the holidays, most of the time it is because they are trying to make everyone else happy or make other people’s fantasies about the holiday come true. The truth is, you cannot make everyone happy, so work on you and your intimate circle. Who do you want to be with? What do you really want to do? Of course, there will be some traditions that you want to uphold, but the key is to think in shades of gray, not absolutes (black and white); for example, a shade-of-gray solution may be to uphold the tradition, but only visit for a short while. Try to find a compromise that makes you happy and also honors the traditions in your life.

4) You don’t have to become Martha Stewart for the holiday season.

Do what works for you and what causes you less stress. Who cares if you did not bake the cake from scratch? Give the neighborhood bakery a call and make their day!

5) Repeat this mantra: “Holidays are not about consumerism.”

Try to banish other thoughts that make you spend too much money during this time of year. Try to put boundaries on your gift giving, especially with kids.

6) Learn to say “no.”

This is the biggest stress reducer. Do what you can do and say “no” to the rest.

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