Welcome to the 2022-2023 Holiday Season! As we transition out of the Pandemic phase of COVID and into the holidays, many of us are starting to experience a whirlwind of dizzying, yet welcomed, demands—social obligations, running errands while battling crowds, entertaining, and if COVID is still spreading in your community, you may still be worrying about your and your community’s health. Perhaps you are navigating challenging social dynamics or alone this holiday season. No matter what your experience, the holidays can often bring some unwelcome guests, including stress. Here are some tips for managing your stress levels during the holidays:
1. Acknowledge and accept. It’s not uncommon to experience feeling isolated, lonely, depressed, anxious, or sad this time of year. Try asking yourself, “Can I use this moment of feeling this way as an opportunity to reflect?” Maybe you find that you need a little peace and quiet, space to mourn someone you care about who you can’t or won’t be with during the holidays, or time to be more purposeful with how you take part in (or don’t take part in) this holiday season. Furthermore, as we transition out of the Pandemic and as relationships grow and change, traditions and rituals may be transitioning, growing, and changing too. Take a little time to explore what’s important to you this holiday season and be open to new traditions and rituals. Consider what is realistic and meaningful to you. If a tradition or ritual causes disproportionate stress, try something new this year.
2. Practice gratitude. Gratitude shifts attention away from stress and helps us recognize the positive. The more you practice, the more natural this gratefulness becomes. Check out this Simple Daily Gratitude Practice to start practicing today!
3. Manage expectations. The spirit of the season often leads to setting unrealistic expectations. Can good enough be good enough? If you notice yourself setting expectations for the holidays to be perfect, ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Remember, imperfection is healthy and normal. Like gratitude, sometimes it just takes a little practice to truly accept that good enough can truly be good enough.
4. Give yourself some breathing room. This sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes we get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays that we forget to take a step back and simply take a breath. Intentional breathing regulates the nervous system and reduces the concentration of stress hormones in your blood. Do you need to step outside and take a big breath of crisp mountain air after a day of shopping in a packed mall? Have you practiced box breathing (inhale for four seconds and exhale for five seconds) when you’re feeling overwhelmed? Want to pencil in more routine time for breathing room? Call 303-502-5189 or visit www.uberconference.com/jcplhomeservices to attend free, live, weekly meditations hosted by the Jefferson County Public Library and provided by Jefferson Center employees.
5. Reach out. Despite your own efforts, you may find that you still need some extra support. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine what kind of support will be helpful for you:
- Are there new ways you can engage with your community? Many communities have in-person and/or online events, support groups, volunteer opportunities, and other various ways to cultivate social interaction.
- Do you have a trusted friend or family member you can talk to?
- Are you interested in professional support? Remember, Jefferson Center is here for YOU this holiday season! Call us at 303-425-0300 to learn more about our services, programs, and resources.
From all of us at Jefferson Center to you, we wish you a holiday season filled with connection, celebration, and cheer!