Blog Post

Handling Holiday Stress

November 01, 2023

Blog Post

Handling Holiday Stress

November 01, 2023
Dr. Gary B. Zustiak, Ozark Center Crisis Specialist
Steps you can take to make your holiday more enjoyable

The holiday season is upon us. We expect it to be a time of joy, excitement, hope and spending time with the people we love. Unfortunately, it can also be a time of stress for many. The holidays can exacerbate financial, family and personal issues. This can take a toll on a person’s well-being mentally and physically.

In light of these concerns, it’s important to pay attention to how the holidays might be affecting you. Unfortunately, when the stress increases many are tempted to turn to unhealthy coping strategies such as:

•    Excessive drinking or substance use 
•    Overeating or eating too little 
•    Self-harm 
•    Anger or violence 
•    Sleeping too much or too little

Some of these unhealthy responses may have long-lasting and negative consequences. Therefore, it’s important to learn and put into practice healthy coping strategies. The following suggestions will help you cope with holiday stress more effectively. Remember – each person is unique, and taking the time to try many different things and figure out what combination of skills works for you is worth doing.

Manage Your Expectations 
Try to set realistic goals, and keep expectations for the holiday season manageable by not trying to make this “the best holiday ever.” Pace yourself. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. With holiday commitments, it is okay to say “no” to a few, or all of them. It will help relieve some stress.

Make a Budget 
Financial strain is one of the leading causes of stress. Making a budget at the start of the season and sticking to it is one of the most effective ways to mitigate this stress. It helps prevent accidental overspending and ensures reasonable expectations. Try to remember that quality time and happy memories are generally worth more than expensive gifts.

Plan Ahead 
Between co-workers, friends and family, it's inevitable that some commitments will end up on the same day. Plan ahead, and prioritize only the holiday events that mean the most to you. Don’t try to attend everything else. Be realistic with how much you can handle this season.

Practice Self-Care
Schedule time for activities that make you feel good. Take a nap, read a book, go to the movies, listen to music you love or take your dog for a walk. It’s okay to prioritize alone time when you need to recharge.

Seek Support 
Lighten the load with a strong support system. Support can come from a lot of places. Many people turn to their friends and families, while others find it in a community or religious organization.  

Enlist the Help of Professionals 
Seeking professional help is an excellent choice when you feel overwhelmed and the stress is beginning to turn into a serious mental health issue. Ozark Center and Freeman Health System offer many resources for specific needs.

•    Crisis Hotline: 417.347.7720 
•    New Directions (for help with alcohol/drug issues): 417-347-7730 
•    Hope Spring for (adult counseling needs): 417-347-7567 
•    Will’s Place (for children and adolescent counseling needs): 417-347-7580 
•    Urgent Behavior Solutions (for urgent mental health care): 417-347-7800