Got Holiday Stress? Here’s CBT Help!

Elizabeth Spencer

You are not alone in feeling stressed at this time of year! Therapists and clients can be overwhelmed by the added activities, expectations, and emotions generated in this holiday season. One of my clients, who just married and moved to a newly built home, was in tears over the hair clogging her shower drain as she prepared for her parents’ visit next week. Her anxiety, which she has worked on successfully for years, has resurfaced with a whole new range of topics with this new stage in her life. The desire to put on the perfect first Christmas is threatening to rob her of the joy of this milestone. CBT can help.

In a recent article, ADAA President Karen Cassiday had four easy suggestions to reduce stress.

1. Keep it simple
2. Don’t overdose on family time
3. Brace yourself for difficult people
4. Make time for mindfulness

These are great ideas for us and for our clients. I have had the privilege of knowing Karen for years through our work at ADAA, and these suggestions mirror her positive attitude about enjoying life as it is.

If you are feeling stressed, what steps could you take to help yourself? The newly married woman scheduled a cleaning service before her parent’s arrival, and carved out time for daily mindfulness alone in her bedroom, which she has found crucial to her wellbeing. I am taking Karen’s advice and making simpler holiday meals and not trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone on my list. I recognize the thought, “It’s not good enough,” about the meal plans and gifts, and work on recognizing the judgment I am putting on myself with that statement. Who am I to say it is or is not good enough? What would good enough even look like? It is truly freeing to recognize, “my family may not like these meals or gifts. I can live with that.” This prompts me to recognize that of course, special meals and a perfect gift are not requirements for a happy holiday. I got up from writing this and put on my holiday sweater – I’m ready for fun!

The principals of CBT are a gift we get to teach our clients every day, and they are a gift we can use to help ourselves enjoy this busy, wonderful time of year.
4 Easy Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

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