How To Navigate Holiday Stress and Grief

holiday stress

This can be an emotional time for many of us – whether you’re missing a loved one who is no longer here or battling holiday stress. Psychologist Dr. Larry Walker with our new Stacie Mathewson Behavioral Health & Addiction Institute at Renown provides insight. 

When it comes to the holidays, fighting off stress and coping with loss can be especially difficulty. Here are some expert tips on how to deal with the most overwhelming time of the year.

Q: The holidays can be a tough time for people for a variety of reasons. First, what do you recommend to help minimize holiday stress?

A: What happens is a lot of people think the holidays have to be a joyous, spiritual, happy time, and we think in our heads we’re supposed to feel that way. But with activities, events, work, holiday parties and family, it can quickly get overwhelming, and we get stressed out. Sometimes we forget we need to keep time for ourselves. Say no to things that aren’t critical to you. There are only so many hours in a day, so just say no.

Q: What about for someone mourning the loss of a loved one they use to celebrate the season with?

A: It’s very difficult, especially the first holiday and first anniversary of losing a loved one. One of the best things is to try to remember the good things with that loved one. Some benefit from giving their time to a volunteer organization in memory of the loved one. Another option is at the first holiday to talk about the loved one and the fun times you had to try and enjoy it the best you can.


Q: How does someone know when they need help from a care provider?

A: When you start having difficulty functioning: when you can’t sleep, get out of bed, lose interest in things you use to love to do. If you find yourself crying a lot, can’t get motivated. These are signs it’s time to talk to your primary care, a friend, confidant, or a behavioral health professional.

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