Coping With Stress This Holiday Season

Dec 9, 2020

 Kailey Foster- There is no doubt that the Coronavirus has changed many aspects of life, and for many of us, our holiday traditions. Joining us to discuss this is Dr. David Schramm, an associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Utah State University.

The last time we had you on, we talked about tips for coping with the pandemic. What are some coping tips you have for people who are struggling with being separated from friends and family this holiday season?

Dr. David Schramm- Yeah, this is such a tough time. I mean, we are born with this need for connection. One of the first things that we do not do is water the seeds of stress and struggle because when we do that, they will grow. When we can accept the sadness, and the difficult year, and the circumstances and then change our mindset and focus on what we can control what we can do, that helps create an upward spiral.

So, for many families, its traditions, one of the things many families look forward to is their Christmas traditions. This traditionally has to do with getting together, gathering together, so gathering online instead of this year or over the phone, or even reading T’was the Night Before Christmas, on zoom. It's going to take some creativity this year to still maintain some traditions while focusing on the positive.

KF- The holidays can already be pretty stressful without an added pandemic. How can we help alleviate stress?

DS- When we dwell on the bad, we become bitter, but remember, it's possible to become better, not bitter during difficult times. And so, we can draw on our resources. And then this is gonna be different for everyone.

It can be their pet, right? It can be a favorite Christmas movie or a Christmas book, or better yet, buy your favorite Christmas book and give it away to someone else. It can be a hobby, my dad, he carves wood. It could be a gratitude journal or a friend or a family member. Doing something to get your mind off that stress. And even better is serving others. Being grateful for what you have and turning outward and being kind to others.

KF-  Is there anything else people should keep in mind when going through this holiday season?

DS- I think it is okay to feel the stress. It is a stressful time. And so we shouldn't ignore that. But we can also choose to change our perspective and to draw on our strengths, those things that we're good at. For example, I had a divorced mother who is going through a painful divorce, she came by last night and dropped off an ornament that she had personally made for us. Even during times of stress, we can turn outward and think of others and that will help us this holiday season.

KF- Where can we go to find more information in tips with coping and just dealing with stress?

DS- People can always turn to relationships.usu.edu for more information.