rcasa

RCASA Friday Facts: Managing Holiday Stress: A Guide For Sexual Violence Survivors

In Friday Facts, Sexual Assault Awareness on December 16, 2011 at 6:00 am

by Kavin Black

Through your life you may have experienced many different types of stress; an eminent deadline, loss of a loved one, public speaking or coming together with family and friends during the holidays.  The American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a survey that indicated that women are more likely than men to report heighten levels of stress  during the holidays, and less likely to relax and take care of themselves.

So it is imperative that people take appropriate steps to address the stress that they may experience during the holidays.  The APA recommends the following tips to help reduce holiday stress and increase resilience:

Define holiday stress—How do you experience stress? Does that experience change during the holidays? Different people experience stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed?

Identify holiday stressors—What holiday events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to work, home, relationships or something else?

Recognize how you deal with stress—Determine if you are relying on unhealthy behaviors like smoking or eating to manage stress. Is this a behavior you rely on year-round, or is it specific to holiday stress?

Change one behavior at a time—Unhealthy behaviors develop over the course of time. Replacing unhealthy behaviors with healthy ones requires time. Start small and focus on changing one behavior.

Take care of yourself—Taking care of yourself during the holiday season helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with stress. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Engage in holiday activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy. Make sure you get enough rest and sleep.

Ask for support—Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen to you strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress. Use the holidays as a time to reconnect with friends and family and strengthen your support network. If you feel overwhelmed by stress, then consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies to help you manage stress, change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

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