Feature Writer Ann Chiapetta – Holiday Stress

The holiday season is a very meaningful time for us. We make the most of the spiritual opportunities to connect with family and friends and help those less fortunate than ourselves.

But the holidays can also be painful reminders of what we have lost. I facilitate two Post Trauma Recovery groups and the holidays are a painful time for many of the group members. Since the group’s main focus is on the losses they have experienced during war, I thought sharing some of their coping strategies could help those of us who may have also experienced losses during the past year. I know that the death of my father last January has made it very difficult for me to find the joy in the holidays this year.

What I’d like to focus on in this article is how the holidays can be stress triggers for us as well. For instance, those of us who have lost loved ones near or on the actual holiday react much differently than those of us who have not. Anniversary dates of traumatic events also trigger anxiety and depression which can cause the person’s need to isolate or avoid family gatherings and parties.

Here are some tips to help yourself or a loved one manage the holiday stress.

Go easy on yourself and plan to meet your needs. If parties and visiting don’t appeal to you, limit the number of visits and holiday parties you will attend.

If you or your loved one is in recovery, surround yourselves with alcohol and drug free gatherings.

Only you can judge when a party or family gathering becomes overwhelming, allow yourself the flexibility to take short breaks from the festivities and walks outside to find the peace and quiet required to get you through the party.

Keep to your routines as much as possible.

If you are feeling especially blue, depressed or have thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Remember holiday blues are real and being aware of how you can manage them will lower your anxiety and stress.

Blessings and safe traveling to all.

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