Do Not Expect a Stress Free Holiday Season

image: Adam Lederer 
By: Ana Jimenez
Adolescent Counseling Services’ Intern

The holidays are here! The holidays are here! Lights everywhere, food and family!  For the young, the best part is school is out! Others are off work.

It is December, the time when families celebrate holidays like Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwannza. When we think about the holidays, we think about all the cool gifts, delicious food and the support of family and friends.

What we do not think about is the stress that comes with the holidays. For example, stores are so crowded cars drive around the parking lots in circles until they find a parking spot. The fight for parking happens at retail and grocery stores! Everyone just wants to find parking and buy what they need, but it is not that simple. With so many people in the same place, frustration rises and it makes shopping unpleasant. To prepare and cook a meal, it can take all day, sometimes the day before.  For the person cooking, it can be nerve-wrecking. What to cook? What do I need? How many people? Do I have enough? Cooking then becomes a burden instead of, something special to do with the family. Another factor of stress during the holidays we might not think about is who will attend. There is always a possibility that in events where groups of people come together some conflict, tension or pressure will arise.

Stress is experienced differently. Stress is defined as a feeling of uncontrollable overwhelment. When stressed, some people may burst out angry, drink heavily, take drugs, or become depressed.  It is important to learn how you personally wear stress and what your triggers are. Some possible triggers include: recent loss, breakup, financial hardship, illness, or unhappy memories (Griffin, 2008).

We can come together to celebrate the holiday season with bright lights, yummy food and a caring family but do not expect a stress free holiday season. Prepare yourself by learning how you deal with stress and knowing your triggers, to find ways to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Some things that you can do are set realistic expectations; things do not have to be perfect, pace yourself, ask others for help, and know your own limits. Keep in mind that joy and sorrow can come together.

References: Griffin, M. R. (2008). Home for the holidays: tips for overcoming holiday anxiety and stress. Stress management health center. Retrieved from