Stress Management to Navigate the Holidays
An excerpt from Managing Stress During the 2020 Holidays by Frank Kim, PhD
Depending on your circumstances, how one navigates the pressures and stresses of the holiday season will differ, and would look different for different people. Know yourself, and how you are impacted by stress. We are living through difficult times, and as a consequence we are supposed to be under duress. Acknowledge how you feel, and then do what you can. Be creative and flexible! If you are not able to be present with loved ones, do what you can to connect with them. This can include frequent phone/text communication or Skype/FaceTime. One can even encourage frequent use of social media.
While perhaps not ideal, it is important to create new ways to connect and celebrate traditions. We may not be able to be face-to-face with loved ones and friends, but we are not alone. Perhaps find ways to share experiences and activities over Zoom, such as joint exercise or craft projects. Allow conversations to flow as they would if you were in the same room together. When we participate in shared experience, this becomes part of our personal and relational history, which increases the sense of connectedness.
There are other more general ways to manage the holiday stress. Take time for self-care. This can be as simple as enjoying your morning coffee, or noticing the sunlight streaming through a window. Mindfulness—being in the present moment—even for short periods of time has been shown to be good for one’s mental health. Exercise and hobbies are great ways to feel better. Similarly, deep breathing and muscle relaxation are great ways to reduce the impact of stress
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."
- Audre Lorde -
Feminist Poet and Activist
Remember to Breathe
If you are feeling tense, try this: Rate that tenseness on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being extremely tense/anxious. Then, take several deep breaths and rate the tenseness again. You should notice a decrease, but if you don’t, then do another set. You don’t have to go down to “0” to feel better, but if you build this into your routine, you will notice that it becomes increasingly more effective.
Stressors like the pandemic, racial violence, intolerance of differences, the systemic oppression of marginalized populations, poverty and environmental injustice can significantly impact the lives, livelihood and mental health of individuals, groups and communities. Being aware and taking action can help to mitigate the deleterious impact of these stressors. This might take the form of developing support systems, education or political activism. If feeling overwhelmed, limit exposure and seek support. It’s ok to hit “pause,” take time to breathe, move and find gratitude.
Managing Stress During the 2020 Holidays
BY Frank Kim, PhD
Kim, Frank. “Managing Stress During the 2020 Holidays.” CU Denver News, 17 Nov. 2020, news.ucdenver.edu/managing-stress-during-the-2020-holidays/.
Marketing and Design Coordinator
Rachel Wixey & Associates
I chose this article because as much as I personally enjoy the holidays, I know that it's not always a joyous time for all. Even for those who do look forward to them, all of the craziness can be incredibly draining, so it is important to take time for yourself and your mental health.