emotion regulation holiday stress counseling Los Angeles therapist psychologist

It’s no surprise that feelings of anxiety and depression increase during the holiday season. You’re surrounded by impossible standards of holiday cheer round the clock and the pressure to do it all, be it all, and buy it all is overwhelming. Thankfully, there are five things you can do to stay even-keeled and regulate your emotions this holiday season. No stress-driven emotional outbursts for you!

1. Take Care of Your Body

Start with the very basics. If you’re sleep deprived or not getting proper nutrition, you’re more likely to succumb to the negative effects of holiday stress. Are you good at regulating your emotions when you’re sick? No one is!

Also, we don’t tend make the best decisions when we are feeling tired, hungry, or sick. By eliminating these physical issues, it’ll be so much easier to stay sensible and composed.

2. Balance the Negative with Positive

Especially during the holidays, we tend to grin and bear it when it comes to handling stress and engaging in draining activities. Instead of just filling your day with challenging tasks, be sure to intentionally add some energizing activities to your day. Having this balance will help you better regulate your emotions when another tough situation lands in your lap.

3. Stay Grounded

Stress has this sneaky way of sweeping us away into the past or future. Counteract this by staying grounded in the present moment. Prevent falling into a stress pit by being mindful of all the positives happening in the moment. Savor the amazing holiday smells you love so much or the delicious hot cocoa you’re drinking. Or sometimes a quick gratitude check-in will do the trick.

If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, try using the five senses grounding technique, holding an ice cube to shock you back into the present, or gently focusing on regulating your breath.

4. Do the Opposite

Your emotions are legitimate and valid. But sometimes our emotions drive us to do things that are destructive and hurtful. And sometimes our emotion-driven impulses intensify our original emotion. So instead of going along with your initial impulse, do the opposite. It may sound a little silly but it really works in balancing out strong emotions.

For example, if you’re feeling sad, it might drive you to isolate yourself and stop engaging in life. So, instead, be among friends and get active in life! If you’re feeling angry, you might verbally attack someone. Instead, kill them with kindness.

5. Challenge Your Assumptions

For better or worse, the automatic assumptions we make about situations and people greatly influence how we feel and react. Instead of going along with the negative assumptions that pop into your head, fact-check them and/or come up with alternative theories. For example, you might become enraged if you assume that guy who cut you off in traffic is just a jerk who has no respect for others on the road. Alternatively, another hypothesis is that he is rushing to the hospital to see his child being born. Not so angry anymore, right?


If your emotion regulation struggles go beyond just the holiday season, click here to learn more about Dr. Lee’s executive coaching services. Alternatively, book a free 20 minute consultation with Dr. Lee to see how she can help.