Mind Springs Health Offers Strategies to Manage Stress During the Holidays
‘Tis the season for family gatherings and gift giving – and for many, more stress and anxiety. Surveys consistently show that Americans often feel overwhelmed and overburdened during the holidays. Last year, 38% of U.S. adults said the holidays stressed them out, according to a poll from PBS NewsHour, NPR and Marist.
Another survey, conducted by US Highbush Blueberry Council, found that 41 percent of respondents said they felt pressure to have a perfect Christmas and worked “too hard” to achieve it. Shopping for gifts, dealing with crowds and entertaining were cited as the leading causes of holiday stress.
Stress is already high in some Western Slope communities, including Carbondale and Rifle, ranked as the most stressed places in the state, according to Zippia, which looked at factors such as long commutes, hours worked and unemployment rates. But the added pressure of the holiday can exacerbate anxiety, particularly among those with mental illness, which in Colorado, amounts to 158,000 adults and 52,000 children, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness.
“Schedules often become more chaotic during the holidays, so it’s easy to become frantic,” says Dr. Amy Gallagher, a psychologist with Mind Springs Health. “The key is to set realistic expectations and to take a break and regroup when things become too hectic.”
Gallagher shared the following tips to help control stress during the holidays:
- Avoid Social Comparison: There are many happy, fun, exciting pictures to look through on social media this time of year. While it is great to enjoy what others are doing, try to avoid comparing your life to those you follow on social media. Think about an e-diet, where you limit your time on social media or unplug altogether.
- Be Mindful & Savor Life’s Joys: Take time to enjoy and fully experience the “memory making” that is happening around you! Use these memories in the future in order to re-experience the positive emotions you felt during celebratory times.
- Remember your Self-Care: Spend time taking care of yourself and asking yourself what you need during this time. Perhaps, you need to say “no” to a possible commitment. Focus on your breathing to relax. Honor and engage your senses through comfortable fabrics, positive sense, or tasty bites.
- Express Gratitude: When we are expressing gratitude, we are unable to express entitlement at the same time. This is a great skill to teach children during the holidays, too! Make a list of things/people you are grateful for; start a gratitude journal to provide daily gratitude reminders; write a letter to someone you feel gratitude for and deliver it.
- Practice Kindness: Kindness can be contagious! Do something nice for others during the holiday season. These can be free- hold the door open, offer to help carry bags, smile at the check-out person, etc. Random acts of kindness go a long way too—studies show that individuals’ rates of happiness increase when they do something nice for someone else!
About Mind Springs Health Mind Springs Health is the Western Slope’s largest provider of counseling and therapy for mental wellness and also assists individuals and families dealing with and recovering from substance abuse and addiction. Covering a 23,000-square mile area in Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Pitkin, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties, Mind Springs Health offers a continuum of mental health care with 12 offices for outpatient treatment, and West Springs Hospital, a privately-owned, not-for-profit psychiatric hospital and the only one between Denver and Salt Lake City.