Psychologist provides advice for easing holiday stress

Dec 22, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 8:37 am

A person stares at a holiday decorated table, stressed....

Often touted as magical, the holidays are often also stressful. (Canva)


SALT LAKE CITY — While often called magical, the holiday season can also be stressful. Dr. Tom Golightly, a clinical psychologist, said that holiday stress is common. 

“It can be anxiety-provoking just being out and about. Traffic, shopping, family gatherings, sports gatherings; there’s just a lot going on this time of year,” Golightly said. 

The clinical psychologist said there are steps you can take to ease stress.  

Firstly, Golightly recommended maintaining some form of schedule. While it’s likely impossible to maintain your exact routine during the holidays, retaining common activities can help. 

Golightly also suggested scheduling self-care time. 

“Schedule in some breaks, and maybe even one or two things that you want to do for yourself over the weekend,” Golightly said. 

Additionally, if you notice a loved one is struggling with holiday stress, Golightly advised that you should offer support to them. 

Sometimes, according to Golightly, asking questions is helpful. 

Sometimes, however, they might not be in the mood to talk. In those moments, the clinical psychologist recommended being willing to sit with the person without talking. 

“Spending time near them and being interested in them can go a long way in those moments where people might not want to be as connected,” Golightly said. 

Difficult relatives

Difficult relatives are often named as a source of holiday stress. If that’s the case, Golightly suggested committing to disengagement from things that will stress you out.  

“Make that commitment to not be emotionally activated, when those things kind of come up in a way that you might not want them to,” said the clinical psychologist. 

Additionally, Golightly suggested identifying behaviors that might trigger stress. He suggested having conversations with those you’ll be spending time with about things that trigger stress for you. 

“Say ‘hey, if these things come up, I’m just not going to engage that. I want to connect, I want to reconnect with you. I want to hear about your life. But here [are] some things that might not be something that I want to talk about tonight at the Christmas party,'” Golightly said. 



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Psychologist provides advice for easing holiday stress