OT Clinical Services

Managing Stress During The Holidays

November and December are times that families cherish; as it brings warm memories of cherished traditions. Many emotions surround this timeframe including stress, excitement, and love. 2020 has brought with it many changes to how we do things within our own families and our communities. Which will affect how we will celebrate this holiday season. Washington University Occupational Therapy would like to provide you with some tips on how to maintain self-regulation during a challenging holiday season.

Tip #1: Simplify the expectations of your holiday events. Identify the top 3 to 4 things that are important to your family and set goals to do those things.

Tip #2: Pre-plan, identify barriers that will affect your holiday activities, and identify solutions 1-3 weeks prior. Preplanning decreases stress and promote self-regulation to enjoy the event.

Tip #3: Use self-affirmation messages to help remind you of the goals set for the holiday season. Self-affirmation messages help self-regulate your brain by providing a plan and a solution. It also helps manage negative thoughts. An example of a self-affirmation message is, “Making this apple pie by myself with keep me and my mom safe. It will feel good to give her the pie as it will help her remember our past holiday traditions”.

Tip # 4: Use self-regulation strategies when feeling stressed to calm your emotions.

Self-regulation strategies include:

  • Taking a walk to clear your mind
  • Listening to calm music to slow your breath and heart rate
  • Journaling your thoughts to help manage when you feel overwhelmed
  • Snuggling up in a comfortable outfit or with a comfortable blanket; it is like giving yourself a hug
  • Eat crunchy food or food that makes your mouth work to promote self-regulation through sucking and swallowing or chewing.

Washington University Occupational Therapy pediatric and adult services are available to help people through this challenging holiday season by assisting with identifying strategies to plan, organize, and self-regulate their life.

Learn more about our adult and pediatric OT Services...