Stressed out for the holidays? Here’s how to deal with it

By Heather Simonsen, KSL TV | Posted - Nov 30th, 2018 @ 6:30pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The demands of the holiday season can be tough.

“It can be stressful,” said Josh Cheney, a father who lives in Centerville. “Budgeting is hard. As the kids get older, the more expensive toys they want.”

Spencer Vriens, vice president of Modern Display in Salt Lake City, works extra-long hours. “Most of our team works at least from 7:30 in the morning until 8 o’clock at night. We set up people’s homes. We do businesses, hotels, country clubs.”

All that stress causes physical symptoms.

“When I wake up in the morning, my feet are hurting a lot more than usual,” Vriens said. “I do get more stress headaches that I usually do.”

The holidays engage all the senses: the sights, the sounds, etc. But that can be overwhelming as well. Here’s how to cope.

“Finding moments of silence, if you’re in a family party of a long drive with lots of screaming kids,” said Orley Bills, licensed clinical social worker at Primary Children’s Hospital. He said it’s important to take care of yourself.

“Really take time to breathe,” he said. “That’s the simplest, easiest, quickest tool that we have to ourselves. To be able to just step outside for five minutes, take some breaths, enjoy some quiet.”

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK to decline invitations. Bills recommends picking two or three goals that are important to you and stick to those.

“Your family will continue to be your family long after the holidays are over,” he said. “They will still love you. It’s OK to say, ‘I’m going to take these things off my plate.’”

Simplify where you can.

“You can go through and say, ‘Actually, we can just do paper plates this year. Decorations? I don’t need to stress about that. It’s OK,’” Bills said.

And do things you find rewarding. For Vriens, that includes providing Christmas for underserved families.

“It gives you perspective,” he said.

Taking care of others, while putting yourself on that list as well.

If the stress gets so bad you’re having trouble coping with everyday life, experts recommend seeking professional help.

Heather Simonsen is a two time Emmy-winning journalist with four nominations from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Heather Simonsen

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