5 ways to reduce stress during the holidays

By Rebecca Ingram

The crisp, cool breeze and changing leaves remind us of the upcoming holiday season, which can bring many pleasant memories to mind.

However, financial strain, navigating family gatherings during the pandemic, or celebrating the holidays without a loved one present may all contribute to an exceptionally stressful holiday season this year.

To help combat holiday stress, plan ahead and identify ways to reduce anxiety and practice self-care throughout this season.

1) Gift shopping: Have you experienced the stress of wanting to find the perfect gift for someone? Has this stress increased due to financial pressures or because of the possibility of being exposed to COVID in stores? Consider making loved ones homemade gifts as a way to keep costs low, especially if it’s a relaxing activity that you enjoy. If you don’t know how to make an item, watch YouTube videos or other online resources. You can also ask someone else to shop for you, or to help you order gifts online.

2) Family gatherings: Navigating family gatherings this year will be difficult. For some, traveling by airplane and being in an enclosed space might be out of the question. Though you might not be able to see family and friends in person, phone calls and video calls offer a way to still visit with them during the holidays. If you have access to a computer or cell phone, try video calling using free platforms like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Skype or Zoom. The Colorado Springs Senior Center (719-955-3400) offers free online Zoom 101 classes each month, and they are happy to answer any questions or direct you to resources that can help with setup.

3) Practice self-care. With increased stress, it’s important to take care of yourself. Make sure you engage in activities and hobbies that make you feel good. Whether it’s crocheting, chair yoga, playing a musical instrument, reading or going on a walk around the neighborhood, staying active is important to decreasing stress.

4) Call ahead: Though some activities are more difficult to navigate during the pandemic, planning ahead can make them safer. If there’s a particular place or event that might be crowded, call ahead and inquire about hours that are less busy and make reservations. There are also virtual museum tours, plays and concerts available, often for free or reduced rates (See our Calendar of Events on page 32). With a little planning, you may be able to engage in the activities you love without giving them up.

5) Seek help: Even in times of stress, focus on the positive moments! If you find you’re experiencing a great amount of stress that’s hard to handle, don’t hesitate to reach out to your primary care provider, mental health professional, or call the local crisis line at 719-635-7000. University of Colorado-Colorado Springs’ Aging Center offers affordable telehealth psychotherapy as well at 719-255-8002. ■

Rebecca Ingram is a UCCS clinical MA student and a psychology trainee at the UCCS Aging Center. Contact her directly at ringram2@uccs.edu or call the Aging Center at 719-255-8002.

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