Keeping Your Cool Even When the Holidays Get Hot

Dealing with the Stress of the Holiday Season

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Ah yes, the holidays. For many, it is a blissful time of reflection, renewal of relationships, and a much-needed respite in the midst of the chaotic monotony of life.

Unfortunately, for others, the holidays represent loneliness, a spiraling into depression, and the inevitable flashes of anger at family get-togethers. Yes, it’s true. Even if you can effectively avoid familial conflict for the rest of the year many cannot escape the hungry clutches of anger and conflict that arise within the holiday season.

Why does this happen? What universal forces are at play in these unhappy annual confrontations? Why is it that, at many holiday tables, tempers flare like the eruption of Vesuvius?

Truth be told there are too many reasons to count but here is a sliver of them:

-Holidays often emphasize to us how rough the year has been
(perhaps we have less money for Christmas)

-The joy in others can irritate the depression in our own hearts

-Anxiety runs high during the holiday season (even good things can
cause stress.

-Our routines are interrupted and this causes many to be a wee bit

-Often, we are forced to be around people we would rather avoid,
and we have to listen to the same annoying theories and complaints
we have heard about a MILLION times before even though we would
rather just haul off and “whack” that person one or at LEAST cover
their repulsive lips with a MUZZLE!!!
Ahem….sorry. Just getting an early start this year.

Seriously, now that we have vividly exposed the issue, here are some tips for keeping your cool even when the holidays get too hot (under the collar, that is):

· STAY FOCUSED ON THE POINT: Remember that holidays are meant to give us a break. They are designed to connect us with family and friends and to remind us to be thankful for what we do have. Don’t get caught up in the “hamster wheel” of craziness. Don’t focus on how rough the year has been. Keep your eyes on why we even celebrate holidays.

· GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO SLOW DOWN: Many people have trouble relaxing even when it’s not a holiday. When it IS a holiday they go into overdrive. If you struggle with this, fight against it. Take a deep breath and look at the important relationships around you. Those people need your focus more than your dust mop.

· DON’T GET DRAWN INTO TRADITIONAL FAMILY FIGHTS: Doesn’t it happen every year? We tend to get sucked into old family bickering or feuds? We forget how much our family triggers us and, so, we get triggered AGAIN. Not this year! Before the holidays arrive, take time to reflect on those old triggers and be more aware of them. That way, when Aunt Melba takes a pot-shot at you, you can simply smile and say…”why thank you, Melba….won’t you please pass the stuffing?”

So….everyone…as we enter into this glorious season let’s take it all in stride. It may or may not be your favorite time of the year but remember; you’ll get a much-needed breather from work, you’ll probably eat a lot of great food and….just in case….you can always sneak in a muzzle.

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit or

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