Notes from the Holiday Stress Reduction Speaker Panel
Panelists: Laurie Veillette, PsyD – Clinical health psychologist.
Rebecca Beisswenger-Maxfield, Owner and Founder of OneLove Lifestyle Consulting and “Loved”
Write in contributions by: Kati Miller, Lyme School Nurse
Notes from Laurie’s Tips:
On Grief. The holidays can be a very triggering time. A time of sadness and loss. A lot of people feel grief this time of year. During the holiday season it is important to check our expectations of ourselves. Holiday movies showcase that it is supposed to be a “perfect time” of year. Be mindful of your expectations around the holidays and ask yourself if your expectations are realistic. Be kind to yourself and be gentle with yourself.
You’re not doing the holidays wrong if you’re feeling sad, or stressed. Honor your feelings, and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Honor your feelings, honor memories and be compassionate with yourself.
Opting out of family traditions that do not bring you joy. One of the greatest gifts if the gift of your time, attention and presence. Be creative and consider ways to be participatory in a way that feels more comfortable. For example, rather than participating in the family Yankee Swap that does not bring you joy, offer to referee the activities or help hand out the numbers rather than participate in the gift exchange.
Gifting. With those you exchange gifts with set a cost minimum / maximum. If your love language finds joy in gifting, consider a “Bonus gift” without any expectation of the recipient having to do the same.
Practice mindful presence by being very present with yourself. Note what’s going on physically and emotionally. Check-in with yourself. Ask: How am I doing right now? What do I need to do to take care of myself? You have as much of a right to enjoy the holidays as everyone else does. Find what brings you joy.
Notes from Rebecca’s Tips:
Gift giving. Be honest. Remember your honesty is what brings you joy & peace in that moment. Give a polite reminder to others and yourself: it’s not about the gift but time, and time spent together. It’s okay to say, “this is what I’m comfortable with (spending) right now”.
Grief around the holiday – Find ways to honor the memory of your loved one. Be honest with yourself and your loved ones with what you’re able to manage related to grief.
How to save money – repurpose a gift. Be honest with others, and also yourself. (Do you really need another loofah??) Sometimes finding the time (take that hike, go on a trip to NYC) to spend together is more valuable than spending money on a trinket.
Just delegate. Divide tasks. Make tasks, check it off the list and see that sense of accomplishment.
Meal prep: take stock in who is coming and consider what their dietary needs are. Go through and count backwards to plan meals. For example, Family member XYZ is leaving on the 27th – how many dinners do I need to make? How many days do we need take- away? Consider going overboard on take out and have lunch together for the next day. Make a HUGE thing of stuffing, put it in the waffle maker and use it as a sandwich with a poached egg and now you’re using your leftovers and making a tasty meal!
Gift giving & wrapping.. Create a check list. Do I have my tape? My scissors? Use paper bags from the Co-Op and let your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc. doodle on it for a crafty up-cycled gift bag. Re-use and keep things like boxes.
Food & Drink. Limit alcohol. It helps with lowering stress. Choose an alternative drink. Hydrate. Eat good, healthful food.
Be honest with others, and also yourself.
Do things in advance, create check-lists and shopping lists to track your progress and see your achievement along the way.
Kati was not able to make our virtual panel, but has shared the following tips with us:
1. Keep to usual routine as much as possible. I feel my best when I stick to normal bedtimes and day time rhythms. We do have an occasional late night or lazy sleep in but during a school break, I try to maintain routine as best as I can. I believe it keeps us all mentally and physically healthier and easier to transition back to school/work.
2. One of my children works hard to manage anxiety and what we have learned over the years is that when there is a lot of anticipation or expectation around an event or planned activity, the family atmosphere can become very intense and stressful. We try to enjoy the small things like baking traditional cookies, sledding, reading books together. The past two years we have also learned that it is okay there are times when family members need some alone time and space. Over the holidays, this is also important. Lowering expectations is helpful.
3. Spend time outside every day. We love the winter and getting exercise and fresh air every day is essential.
4. If it feels like too much, it probably is too much. There is no reason to cram everything into 2 weeks. Children can sense anxiety and stress in their parents. There already is so much that we are continuing to worry about and we should not feel pressured to create the most magical holiday. Simplicity can be beautiful. Being kind to ourselves and others is all that really matters.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. These are two available resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis text line: 741741
If you have a wellness themed topic you would like to share or learn more about, and/or blog/vlog about as an expert in a health/wellness related field, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manager of Program Development
CommunityCare of Lyme