As a child and family therapist, I notice the difference in how my clients are feeling during the holiday season versus the rest of the year.

Although many of us are looking forward to our time off, there are so many decorations that need to be put up, parties to attend, shopping extravaganzas, and presents to be wrapped that we begin to feel the stress.

And for many, the holiday season can also be a financial burden.

The American Psychological Association conducted a poll on holiday stress and discovered 69 percent of Americans feel a lack of time during the holiday season, 51 percent feel pressure to give beyond their means, and 69 percent feel they don’t have enough money, according to AllOne Health.

There is a great deal of pressure that goes along with the holiday season. Some people experience anxiety and depression which affects their sleep patterns and ability to cope with stress.

And individuals who live far away from family may feel isolated and alone during the holiday season. Family members may be dealing with personal loss, divorce, or even a break-up which exacerbates sad feelings and moods.

People expect one another to be joyous, and for those struggling, the feeling of expectations to attend parties and give gifts can add to the stress.

Here are some strategies that may help during the holiday season:

  1. Contact or reach out to a family member or friend who can cheer you up and understand what you are going through.
  2. Take a long walk to clear your mind.
  3. Play classical music and light candles, or take a warm bath with Epsom salts to relax your muscles.
  4. If you have a partner, give each other a massage.
  5. Watch a funny movie that will cheer you up.
  6. Giving doesn’t have to be about the dollar value. Go to a shelter and volunteer, or make cookies for loved ones.
  7. Do a Secret Santa or White Elephant gift exchange so you do not have to buy gifts for the whole family.
  8. Don’t holiday shop at the last minute. Consider buying gift cards instead, or shop online to avoid hectic lines.
  9. Look at your to-do list and do not take on more than you can handle.
  10. Practice yoga, meditation, or relaxation.
  11. If you are severely depressed and stressed out, please seek professional help.

The holiday season is about spending time with the people you love and cherish in your life. They can be family members, friends, or people who are so close to your heart you consider them family.

Remember, it’s not about the dollar amount spent, it’s about giving thanks and spreading happiness, cheer, and love. And all those are truly priceless.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday.