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Lancaster Based ‘Ellie Mental Health’ Provides Self-Care Advice and Tips to Reduce Stress during the Holidays

The Holidays can be very stressful for many of our families, friends, and co-workers throughout Lancaster Pennsylvania.

Often we feel the intensity of the season in the form of anxiety, over-whelm, or frustration. Some of us may feel sad, discouraged, or even depressed- especially if you have lost a loved one who will not be part of the family gatherings or celebrations this year.

Time-honored traditions can feel meaningless or lonely for some individuals experiencing a range of emotions to sift through.

For others, it becomes a race to get so much done in what feels like so little time. While focusing on past holidays, or too many upcoming expectations for those events now approaching, we leave ourselves very little room to be in the present moment and experience the true joy which we want to embrace. 

“Sharing feelings and setting realistic expectations can be a great coping mechanism”

Said Laurene Gerson, Editor and Director of Media Relations for Lancaster Health News

“This year we asked Ellie Mental Health of Lancaster to share stress-reduction tips and advice with our readers”, shared Gerson.

Ellie Mental Health of Lancaster therapists share Holiday advice

Advice from Yvette Ruiz, M.Ed.,LPC,NCC- Ellie Mental Health

It’s that time of year again when the leaves start changing, the days get shorter, and you can feel that winter chill in the air. October came and went, and Thanksgiving is behind us which only means it’s downhill after this and the holiday stress of preparing for Christmas begins. There are the cookies to bake, decorating the tree, writing those Christmas cards, driving to the mall at the break of dawn to make sure you are the first one in line when those doors open to beat the swarms of holiday shoppers.

So, how can you prevent holiday stress? You ask? Here are a few things and suggestions  I always tell my clients:

SELF Care is key- try to do things that are relaxing to you some examples can be creating a spa feel in your bathroom by lighting up a scented candle like Lavender, soothing instrumental music and soak in a nice warm tub or read a book while drinking tea…..

Practice Mindfulness breathing- Simply sit in a comfortable chair and close your eyes and take a minute or so to focus on your breathing in particular how your lungs fill up and expel air. Your mind will wander perhaps thinking about all the things you must do and it’s okay but don’t stay there. Simply go back to focusing on your breathing and you will feel better and most importantly relaxed.

Lastly, SLEEP- try to go to bed at a set time and try not to burn the midnight oil trying to get things done like you did during your college days ( if you attended college) this can be so easy to do during the holidays especially if your time is limited due to a full-time job or if you are a caregiver.

I encourage you to try these tips anytime but especially during high stress which comes with holiday preparations.

Advice from Dr. Dan Pezzulo, Board Certified School Neuropsychologist & Psychotherapist

Holiday gatherings can be quite stressful. People who don’t see and interact with one another regularly and meaningfully find themselves getting emotionally “triggered or activated” by what another person says (or doesn’t say) or does (or doesn’t do).

One coping tool is to remain conscious of just how ignorant we actually are about one another. Ignorance or not meaningfully knowing someone, can lead to all kinds of assumptions about that person, which often fuels what we say and how we act toward one another. Stop and think about how well you actually and meaningfully know that relative and, even more so, how well that relative knows you.

Chances are even “relatives,” who don’t regularly “relate” to one another, don’t meaningfully know one another – in spite of the annual turkey or ham they share. Recognize and accept that ignorance (yours and theirs) often contributes to things said or done that otherwise wouldn’t be – if family members authentically knew one another. Be kind to yourself and others by remembering that most of us interact with “loved ones” we are ignorant about – especially during the holidays.

Advise from Missy Ressler, MA, LPC, BCBA – pediatric therapist

Plan and Prioritize Activities

During the holiday season, there may be a multitude of events and activities to attend. To manage stress, plan ahead and prioritize the activities that are most important or enjoyable for your family. Trying to do everything can lead to exhaustion and stress, especially with kids in tow. Consider discussing with your children which events or traditions are most meaningful to them and focus on those. Having a well-organized schedule can help reduce last-minute chaos and allow for more relaxed and enjoyable family time.

Preparing children for schedule and routine changes is vital for a smooth transition

Tailor your communication to their age, using visual aids like calendars or charts to illustrate the modifications. Gradual transitions, involving children in planning, and emphasizing stability in their routine contribute to a more positive adjustment experience. Consistent communication and reassurance about the upcoming changes help create a sense of security for the child and helps the holidays be calmer.

If you would like to contact a therapist at Ellie Mental Health to discuss any problem or issue:

Phone: 717-936-9758
Suicide and Crisis Hotline: #988

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