Defeat Holiday Stress, Embrace Your Family This Season

December 15, 2016

Dr. Carletta Perry, assistant professor of psychology, offered some thoughts about dealing with Christmas and the holiday season.

The holiday season can leave people feeling like the Grinch who stole Christmas before his heart grew three sizes. The hustle, the bustle, the search for the “just right” present can cause holiday stress. A contentious election season also has left people fearful of family gatherings turning into dustups.

Perry -Carletta 

Dr. Carletta Perry, assistant professor of psychology at Saint Leo University, offered some hints for dealing with holiday stress.

The joy of the holiday is in the spirit of how we prepare and celebrate, she said. Rather than scrambling for the perfect gift or busting a budget, “know that love and time are the most valuable gifts you can give,” Perry said.

And don’t overdo it. “Starting with yourself, loveyouenough to value your time,” the Saint Leo psychologist said. “Let others help you and value what others can offer. They will feel valued, and you won’t be left feeling exhausted and resentful.”

Family is often the origin of our pain but it is also the origin of healing. “Don't miss out on spending time with the ones you love,” Perry said. “Be thankful for the ones who are present and honor those who are no longer present.

She offered some practical advice for those family events: Show up with a positive attitude and a plan. “For example, take an old video to show, share pictures, or look up relatives and friends on Facebook to share in their experiences.”

Christmas -celebration 

Rather than being Grinch-like and hoping the Christmas season (and Hanukkah) were over already, “get in the spirt by enjoying every ‘to do’ item, planning for the special day, or cooking a special dish,” Perry advised. “Celebrate by being a part of the wonderful time of the year!”

Dr. Carletta N. Perry is an assistant professor of psychology at Saint Leo University in the School of Arts & Sciences. She teaches at the South Hampton Road Education Center and the Chesapeake Education Office in Virginia.