The New Normal: How to handle holiday stress

News 12's Elizabeth Hashagen was joined by Dr. Liz Nissim-Matheis, a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist, for a conversation on handling the stress of the holidays.

News 12 Staff

Nov 29, 2022, 3:09 PM

Updated 598 days ago


There's the pressure to find the right gift, getting the cards out on time, having a packed calendar of events and the added stress of affording all of it.
News 12's Elizabeth Hashagen was joined by Dr. Liz Nissim-Matheis, a licensed clinical psychologist and certified school psychologist, for a conversation on handling the stress of the holidays.
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College students return for the holidays. It's a time of transition and growth for your child. It can also be a time to have a conversation about how things have changed, how people have changed, what are the rules and how you are going to exist under the same roof together.
This time of year brings a jampacked social calendar - on top of the normal schedule. How can you manage all that?
Navigating co-parenting during the holidays -- the holidays might bring up painful memories of when the divorced or separated parents used to be together, which would make interactions with each other feel triggering. How do you decide between celebrating together vs. separately?
In a May 2022 survey, 36% of caregivers said they suffer from depression/anxiety - a figure that is 114% higher than reported by non-caregivers. Cleveland Clinic Healthy Now survey also showed that while 70% of caregivers agreed that they need regular mental/emotional health breaks (compared to only 50% of non-caregivers), 56% acknowledged that taking a day off from their responsibilities (e.g., family, work, etc.) is unrealistic for them.
Research shows that children who eat with their parents consume more vegetables, have higher self-esteem, lower risk for substance use and better reading scores, vocabulary and grades.
But in the United States, dining together doesn't happen all that often. Each week, as much as 70% of meals are eaten away from home. Fewer than 1 in 3 families, on average, eat together more than twice a week, according to the Family Dinner Project at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Below are some tips for handling your holiday stress:

Manage your time: Write down your schedule for the day and stick to a plan. Choose a friend, family member or therapist to hold you accountable to following through.
Keep a journal: Even something as simple as keeping a journal or writing on a sticky note or notepad can help you reflect and see the patterns on days that you felt better. Then, you can use those tips for days that are harder.
Limit alcohol use: Try to limit alcohol to holiday social events and no more than one to two drinks in one sitting - or ditch the alcohol entirely and enjoy other holiday beverages like cider or hot chocolate.
Schedule some fun after the holidays: Having something to look forward to is important, and this does not have to be an expensive outing. Even a day out with one or two people you care about can lift your mood.
Watch what you are eating: Use smaller plates when possible and listen to your body. Eat until you are satisfied, not until you are stuffed.
Donate your time: If you are feeling lonely, volunteering can also be a great way to connect with people who may share similar interests. Giving back to your community and to others in need can be a great way to do something positive.
Limit your time on social media: Social media can be overwhelming at times - even more so around the holidays, when people have more free time on their hands. Limit your time on devices and spend time doing things you enjoy with people you care about.
Set boundaries: Be comfortable with saying no to things and to people who may cause you stress. Setting healthy boundaries with things, people and family is even more important during the holiday season.

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