Helpful tips for coping with holiday stress from Mount Mercy therapy clinic

Preparing for the holidays can be nerve-wracking due to the heightened call of time and attention. Numerous activities occur within a short period of time: parties, shopping, cooking and family gatherings. When impractical expectations are combined with poor coping strategies, the result can be stress, anxiety or depression.

Student Therapist Deanna Engrav of Mount Mercy’s Gerald & Audrey Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic offers the following tips to help cope with the season’s potential stressors:

Take a healthful approach- It is not uncommon to overindulge during the holidays. Pace yourself. Make sure you are exercising, eating sweets in moderation and getting enough rest. Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.

Think practical- Perfection is impossible. You may not be able to have the best party or find the perfect gift, and it is okay. Most of the time, we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and we are the only ones expecting perfect results. Take a step back and feel gratitude for what you have and are able to give.

Accept what you are feeling- It’s okay to feel sad or “not in the spirit” every once in a while. Ignoring these feelings will not make them disappear. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, have a good cry and then move forward.

Look after YOU- Make sure you schedule some positive alone time. Even 30 minutes a day to “check in” with yourself can be helpful when combating the holiday blues. This can include activities like listening to music, going for a walk, meditation, yoga and reading.

Donate your time- Helping others can be personally rewarding in many ways. Volunteering is a great way to combat loneliness during the holidays.

Seek professional help- Sometimes stress or depression will not go away after the season. It is okay to seek professional help. Getting a fresh perspective is always beneficial.

If you find yourself battling symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression, Mount Mercy’s Gerald & Audrey Olson Marriage & Family Therapy Clinic can help. The clinic, located in Mount Mercy’s CRST International Graduate Center, allows graduate students an opportunity to provide affordable, beneficial services to struggling individuals, couples and families.

To schedule an appointment with Deanna or any other knowledgeable counselor call 319-368-6493.

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