Stress Management Over the Holidays

on December 16, 2011

by Michelle H.

Let’s face it – as much as the holidays are a time to relax, wind down, and enjoy good food and good company, they can also be stressful. Thinking about gifts, travelling in poor weather, cooking for large quantities of people, or keeping the kids occupied can leave one feeling frazzled, and instead of winding down one can end up feeling worn down. Practicing stress management strategies leading into the holidays may not just be helpful for you, but can also be helpful for your whole family. This may be especially true if you have children who tend to worry a lot, have trouble settling down, are hyperactive, have difficulty falling asleep, or who have depression or anxiety.

While there are a number of stress management techniques that you can try with your family, here are a few that we would like to highlight due to the fact that they’re quick, easy, and can be done just about anywhere:

1. Deep breathing

Deep breathing is one of the easiest relaxation techniques, and consists of breathing slowly from our stomachs, as opposed to our chests. Practicing this deep, slow breathing from the belly has been found to have immediate relaxation effects. When things start to feel stressed in the house or when you’re out and about, this is something quick and easy you can do to calm down. Here’s a handout that shows four simple steps to deep breathing that you and your family can try: Quick Ways to Relax

2. Healthy Thinking: Red and Green Thoughts

Like deep breathing, healthy thinking can be practiced anywhere and at any time. Healthy thinking allows you to reframe the way you think about a situation, so that it is less stressful or worrisome, and more healthy. Try thinking of your thoughts as ‘red’ thoughts and ‘green’ thoughts, with the red thoughts being negative or unhelpful, and the green thoughts being more helpful, positive, or optimistic. As we can get bogged down with red thoughts over the holidays, try ‘catching’ these unhelpful thoughts you hear yourself or your family members saying, and replacing them with more realistic ‘green’ thoughts. A worksheet you and your family can fill out can be found here.

We encourage you to share your stress management strategies for the holidays in our comments section below!


photo courtesy of CMVH via Flickr


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BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

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Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

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British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

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Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.