website-picsDo you find yourself feeling a bit anxious lately? Do you get annoyed by the early holiday advertising? Do hearing the words “Christmas spirit” or “Holiday cheer” or hearing songs like “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” stress you out? Does your mood seem to be off as we approach the late fall and winter? Do you just feel somewhat or a lot down or sad over the past several days?  Are you irritated or snappy at your spouse or partner? Do your kids seem to avoid you when you are in “one of those moods”? Do you get annoyed when others are in a happy holiday mood or just faking it? Do you find yourself getting stressed out over all the activities and demands of family and friends? Do you find yourself depressed even when others are merry? Do you just want to run away from it all? Do you find yourself hiding out in your room hoping to not be disturbed? Have you experienced change or loss (such as loss of a family member, friend or pet; change in job status, divorce, separation, change in health, or other stressful changes or losses)? Are you feeling grief associated with loss or change?

If you answered “Yes” to some or most of these questions, you are not alone during this holiday mayhem. Many of our clients have had or are experiencing a change in their moods over the Christmas or holiday season. Whether anxiety, stress, anger, fear, frustration, depression, sadness, hopelessness, worry, as well as many of these feelings running together this holiday season, be assured there is help and hope for you to get you through this time. We have counseled with many clients who have just needed to come in and talk about what’s going on in order to get through the holidays while others look to sort out their thoughts and emotions to get a better handle on them and set a goal or two to meet.

Let’s look at 4 things you can do to navigate through your thoughts, feelings, the stress and moodiness during this holiday season.

Sorting out holiday stress from holiday grief

There are times when we may get “caught up in the moment” and not realize everything that is stirring up inside of us. Take a few moments and sort these things out. For example, recognize how you would ordinarily handle day to day activities (such as going to work, shopping, taking the kids to school, cleaning the house, planning for the weekend, calling a friend, exercise, preparing a meal, studying for school, and other activities). Now look at how you are handling these activities now. Is there a noticeable difference? Holiday activities may and do compound our stress and burden our time and relationship obligations. Yet the difference is when there is added stress, added frustration, anger, isolation, avoidance of others or activities usually enjoyed at other times of the year that generate more intensity than usual. Stress is stress yet look at the context, when and where and how often as well as what your actions or reactions are like with those around you or the tasks you are involved in.

Checking in with yourself and others

Take a breather and check in with yourself to look at what you are doing. Are you jumpy or reacting to most everybody around you especially those you love? Ask yourself, “Would I usually act this way or say these things?” Are you taking on more than you can or want to handle? Are you shutting out people you would ordinarily talk to or hang out with? Do ordinary tasks take much longer to complete then in months past? Invite an open and honest dialogue with close and trusted family or friends. Ask them if they notice anything different or troubling with your behavior or mood. Many times other people will notice things that you may not realize is going on with you.  Being honest with yourself about how you really feel will help you to sort out and navigate through this holiday season.

Identify and gather your strengths

Take a personal inventory of your strengths. This may be hard to do at first and it may be an activity you ignore or don’t trust yourself to discover.  When you do, it will help you to see what strengths you may use to apply to your current situation. Ask others who you know and trust to help you with this. After you have identified your strengths, however, you find yourself missing the drive to put them into action, then this may be telling you that you need to take some time to address the grief, emotional pain, and all the other confusing, troublesome emotions that keep stirring up inside of you.  Strengths may also be found with and through others in your life. Finding initial comfort and strength is helpful from trusted family and/or friends however, their time and energy to listen may be limited or maybe they are partly involved or too close to the situation to be helpful. This is where an experienced listener may be good for you.

Relief for the something else

Once you have figured out that there is much more going on inside of you then the typical Christmas or holiday mayhem, you can look to find help, solace, comfort, empathy, compassion, and answers to alleviating the something else – namely the anxiety, depression, grief, and other distressing thoughts and feelings. You don’t have to go through this time alone or knotted up in the chaos or distressing relationships. Something else may go beyond the help of certain family and friends and a professional helper or counselor may be just what you need especially when things seem to be complicated or intense.


SO, Am I ready? Doubts about getting Christmas or holiday help


You may wonder if counseling is right for you especially during the holidays. With so many things going on and all the holiday parties, decorating, festivities, etc., etc. when will there be any time? Many of our clients have found that by taking the time to get help for themselves in times of stress and sadness, they gain hope, energy and a bit of happiness to overcome the festive season.


You may ask yourself if you would feel any kind of relief from short term “getting through the holidays” counseling. We have found that targeting certain feelings and/or behaviors while finding solutions to these problems brings many with added relief. Much of counseling nowadays is more short term and specific to a particular area of need.


In this economy, this is a common question we get asked as many people have not been to counseling or it has been awhile since their last visit. We look to relief and value in the investing of your well-being. Counseling is no exception.  How is your quality of life measured? There are costs and rewards for many things in our lives and counseling is part of that. When you devote your time and energy into counseling, the rewards may go far and wide to other aspects of your life that will help you now as well as in the future days, months and even years. Many have found that when the focus is on the outcome – to feel more hopeful, less stressed, happier, more emotionally free then the cost seems much smaller in the bigger scheme of things.

If you found this blog post helpful or if you have any questions…don’t hesitate to let us know here at Pathways either by phone (520-292-9750) or email ( or you can call a specific counselor directly.  Feel free to check out our blog and other articles here on our website. Thanks.