Holiday stress can be intense. There’s the pressure to say yes to every invitation, bake the best cookies and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list (Pictured: Kimberly Malloy).
If you’re feeling seasonal stress this year, you’re not alone: Research shows that 25 percent of the population would rather skip December.
Before you mentally check out this Yuletide season, Kimberly Malloy — therapist, executive coach and founder of Las Vegas-based Center for Relational Health LV — has three tips to draw more joy from the holidays.
Therapist Kimberly Malloy Shares Ways to Maintain
Joy Throughout December
Do Something Different
Just because you did something last year and even the year before doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it. Malloy says now is the perfect time to examine holiday traditions and do something intentionally different.
“Just on your drive home, when you find yourself really stressed thinking about the season, drive through one of those neighborhoods that has all of the lights, and sit there and enjoy it,” she said. “Allow the goodwill of those men and women who did that to just put a smile on your face.”
For those who experienced a loss this year, Malloy suggests changing your holiday plans. You may decide to rent a cabin instead of attending a family dinner.
“Do the opposite of what your emotions tell you to do,” she said. “If you tend to isolate, say yes to invitations. If your normal is to go to every party, say no to some invitations. Sometimes we say yes to everything, and sometimes what will bring us greater joy is for us to say no occasionally.”
Malloy says it’s important to be intentional about connecting or not connecting. “I have two lists; one is things I have to do, and the other list is things it’d be nice to do,” she said.
If you do accept an invitation, Malloy advises to stay mindful and in the moment. “A lot of mindfulness is just being present,” she said. “If you do go to a party, be present while you’re there.”
The same applies if you’re the host: “Being mindful will help you stay grounded, and it will help you stay connected to your guests,” Malloy said.
If you need a reminder to stay in the moment, Malloy recommends practicing tactical, or square, breathing: Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds and repeat the square a couple of times until you can feel anxiety reducing.
Get a New Perspective
Finally, Malloy says you can also de-stress simply by looking at things in a different way. Remember the holidays are about family but that “family” can also mean friends who are like family to you. “This is a great perspective shift,” she said.
Practicing self-compassion can also help make traditional family gatherings more enjoyable. “Be self-compassionate versus critical when you cross the threshold at a family event,” Malloy advised.
MORE ABOUT KIMBERLY MALLOY
Kimberly Malloy is the founder of the Center for Relational Health LV, 8879 W. Flamingo Road, Suite 101. She is a licensed therapist and AAMFT Approved Supervisor in the state of Nevada in private practice, and holds a Master of Science in counseling, with a focus on Marriage, Family & Child Therapy.
Malloy is offering workshops in January and February based on the teachings of shame researcher and author Brené Brown, including “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection.”
For more information, visit CRH-LV.org.