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Five Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

Thanks to VP of Programs Jody Tompkins, MA, LMFT for providing this post!

holidaystress2Here we go: the 2013 holiday season is in full swing! Although this is an exciting time, festive with decorations, celebrations and family time, we all have experienced our share of holiday stress! With all the fun come high expectations for the perfect gathering, the best gift, connections to important people around us and such. Especially when our lives are different this year from what we may have planned for, we can find ourselves feeling unwanted emotions during this season: anxiety, sadness, frustration, fatigue and apathy, to name a few.

Rather than getting stuck in the thick of it all, here are a few tips to make it through the holidays and experience joy and peace as well!

  • positivity3Stress isn’t just in your head. When you’re stressed, your body responds.  Stress and depression can adversely affect your holidays and compromise your health.  “Being realistic, planning ahead and seeking support can help ward off stress and depression,” according to this Mayo Clinic article, which offers practical tips about dealing with stress.
  • Remember that although the holidays may leave you feeling “out of balance,” acknowledging what you feel in the moment and preparing for upcoming events can help you gain a sense of control.
  • positivitylist2Give yourself specific information about what to do when you talk to yourself! Example: instead of “I don’t want to feel overwhelmed,” say to yourself “I’m handling this hectic time with balance and purpose.” Then you focus on what you DO WANT, and your capability to make it happen! Your brain has no filter…it will follow suit!
  • With the holidays upon us, I notice myself searching for motivation to stay on track taking care of myself, balancing all the “extras” of the season with my “routine”… So I go back to basics: focus on being POSITIVE in my outlook, and the rest will fall in place.

Finally, I like to collect inspirational quotes to keep me motivated. Here are a few bits of sage advice to get you started:

  • positivity2“Remember that stress doesn’t come from what’s going on in your life. It comes from your thoughts about what’s going on in your life.” ~Andres Bernstein
  • “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~William James
  • “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” ~John Wooden

jodytompkinsJody Tompkins, MA, LMFT is the Vice President of Programs at Cancer Support Community Valley/Ventura/ Santa Barbara (CSCVVSB). Jody has more than 20 years of experience as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Her specialties include Family Systems, Anger Management, Anxiety and Depression, Couples Therapy, Grief Work, Art and Play Therapy for Children. Jody received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from California State University, Northridge, and a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

As VP of Programs for CSCVVSB, Jody oversees a comprehensive slate of programs to address the psychosocial needs of cancer survivors and their families. This year, more than 3,000 adults, children, and teens will benefit from CSCVVSB’s free programs, which include professionally-facilitated support groups, expert-led seminars, mind/body courses, expressive arts groups, and an award-winning Latino outreach program. Jody supervises a clinical staff of 15 licensed psychotherapists with over 300 years combined experience working in the field of psychosocial support and cancer related issues. CSCVVSB has been a vital cancer support resource in the community for 22 years so that no one faces cancer alone.

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