It’s the holiday season. Snow-capped mountains, twinkling lights, and countless cookies serve as a backdrop for the most festive holiday moments. But they can also be a reminder of difficult times and trigger stressors for many people.  A long list of tasks to prepare for the holidays can feel overwhelming. The pressure to have a perfect celebration, difficult family dynamics, or financial stress that gets amplified during the holidays can all leave us feeling less than cheery.

While we may not be able to avoid holiday stress entirely, there are steps that we can take to make it a bit more manageable.

First, give yourself some grace. Most people experience stress at this time of year, so give yourself permission to have an imperfect holiday.  

Secondly, it may be useful to take a moment and reflect on what might be coming up for you this time of year. Be aware of what could prompt feelings of overwhelming sadness or frustration. Expressing these emotions, either in conversation with a supportive person or by engaging in journaling or doing something creative could also be useful. Often, naming and vocalizing our emotions can help to defuse them.  

The ability to identify our triggers can help us problem-solve, allowing us to decide how we would like to take care of ourselves and set boundaries in relation to potentially difficult situations. For example, if you recognize that you find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of holiday parties you’ve been invited to, you can take time to decide how to best handle this stressor. For some, it might be creating a limit for how long you will stay at each party. For others, it may be skipping the parties all together.

Make sure that you build in time to take care of yourself. Practice positive coping skills, such as mindfulness, journaling, or going for a walk. Additionally, take time to assess what celebrations are meaningful for you, and what you may want to prioritize. This will look different from person to person, and only you can know what is right for you and your family in making this a joyous time of year.

If you need help managing your physical or mental wellbeing, please reach out to me or your primary care provider by calling the Telluride Medical Center at 970-728-3848. If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, seek immediate help by calling the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-8255.  Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season.    

Lindsay Wright, LMFT is a Behavioral Health Counselor at Telluride Regional Medical Center.