Good advice for the holiday season

Authored by: Chris Bereshnyi, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Salt Lake County Youth Services

The holidays can be a time of joy, whether it’s visiting with family and friends, or enjoying the lights downtown. However, they can also be very hectic, for those of us planning holiday get together and especially for us last minute shoppers.

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While planning things ahead of time is always ideal, we all know that procrastination is a uniquely human trait. The thought of buying presents for all of our friends and family can be daunting, but there are ways to help minimize stress. For example, large families have employed the Secret Santa approach, which can cut down on the amount of gifts we need to purchase, while also allowing us to personalize the gift(s) even more. There’s also the “eating the elephant one spoonful at a time” approach in which we break down our holiday shopping into manageable bites. Internet shopping has made gift buying easier, as long as we order the gifts in time for Christmas.

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However, stress may still affect the most organized of the bunch. With that being said, let’s go over some stress-relieving techniques. Everyone has their own way of relaxing, whether it be watching a movie or going for a walk; but sometimes stress can peak, or anxiety can strike, when we’re not in a position to fall back on our tried and true coping skills.

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This is where techniques that can be used anywhere and anytime time can be especially helpful. A favorite technique of mine, mindfulness, is one such skill. With mindfulness you focus on life as its happening. You pay particular attention to what is impacting your five senses in that moment and try to notice as many things as you can. When working with my clients, I urge them to notice visually at least ten objects in their environment, and at least three in the other four senses. Lastly, notice your thoughts, but don’t judge them as good or bad, and imagine them floating into the sky and disappearing. This skill can take as long as you want it to, from thirty seconds up to a few minutes. As with everything, practice makes perfect, and I recommend practicing this skill when you are doing something enjoyable, in my case eating, and you’ll find that it enhances an already pleasurable experience. So with that, I hope that you enjoy a stress-reduced holiday season, and a Happy New Year.

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