Why This Holiday Season Feels So Stressful—And How to Feel Calmer, According to a Therapist

No matter what, if, or how you typically celebrate, we could all use some holiday joy right about now. But along with the twinkly lights, cozy sweaters, and yummy food, this year's holiday season (in true 2020 fashion) also brings a lot of unwanted stress.

“We’re grappling with how to celebrate in the context of a global pandemic, civil unrest, and a climate in peril," says psychotherapist Lia Avellino, LCSW, director of head and heart at THE WELL.

And that leaves us with some tough decisions: "Do I take a potential risk to be with family or spend time alone?” "Do I give up cherished rituals because of COVID-19?" "Do I talk about my political beliefs with my relatives if that may lead to conflict?'" Avellino’s advice: “Give yourself permission to respect your unique boundaries and do what feels right for you.”

Whatever you decide, it also might be helpful to lean on stress-busting supplements such as the ones from THE WELL, your complete ecosystem for holistic wellness. "We all experience anxiety which triggers the sympathetic nervous system," says Frank Lipman, MD, chief medical officer at THE WELL. "Supplementation with certain nervous system calming agents can help support our body in times of extreme stress." Let’s dig into more holiday-stress tips, shall we?

Keep scrolling for three helpful holiday stress tips.

holiday stress tips

Support your body

On days you feel like you’re in overdrive, soothe your nervous system with a supplement like Liquid Calm. The unique blend of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that has been shown to reduce anxious thoughts and feelings) and L-Theanine (an amino acid found in green tea that promotes relaxation) is formulated to induce focus and mental calm without drowsiness during the day, and more restful sleep when taken at night. Bonus: No pills—the formula is a liposomal liquid, which research shows increases your body’s ability to absorb and use the ingredients, so you just squirt a pump under your tongue and go.

Reprioritize your agenda

There are way bigger things to worry about than the state of your pantry (that literally no one will see but you) or the perfection of your menu. Cut yourself some slack, and consider what feels most important to you, like spending time with the people you love, making a special family recipe, or disengaging from news and social media, Avellino suggests.

"It can be difficult at this time of year not to say yes to it all," Avellino says. "Reframe 'no,' as not a rejection of another or a task, but as the choice to make space to say 'yes' to the things that matter most."

Lean on your (virtual) community

While the holidays may evoke anxiety over how to make small talk with that one aunt who goes on way too many social media rants, your people can also bring a sense of security. If you're not meeting up in person, it's even more important to lean on your friends and family virtually, Avellino says.

"There is a huge emphasis on self care during the holidays, and while this is super important, our communities are what carry us—they are what helps us heal," she says. "Make sure to spend time connecting to them (digitally if that feels safest), and be honest with them about what it’s like to be you right now and what you need."

Coming together to meet each other's needs during this stressful time? If that feels like embracing vulnerability in a way you're not used to, that just might be the point. "Although stress might keep us going, it disconnects us from our feelings or intuitions," says Avellino. "Spending time tuning in allows us to get the messages our bodies are sending and begin to live in more alignment with ourselves." Show up, breathe in, and connect.

Art: Well+Good Creative

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