Stress and Gratitude During the Holidays

December 22, 2011 Kendra Sebelius

The holidays can bring a lot of stress to people, and there may be an increase in triggers for those in recovery. There are a lot of articles and stories about how to stay present, and mindful of recovery throughout the season. I think it is important to continue to remind people to embrace a perspective of gratitude for all the joys we have in our lives. It isn't only a necessary recovery tool, but important for all areas of our life when we feel overwhelmed or stressed.

Being Present During the Holidays is a Gift


I personally was doing so well through last week! I hadn’t really bought any gifts; I was baking throughout the days, and was focused on giving goodies, getting my house clean, decorating, and being so grateful for the holiday season. I love the holidays, I love the traditions, I love that being sober is a blessing versus a freak out. I don’t normally crave drinking when stressed, it usually manifests in anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, emotional dis-regulations and fights with people, and freaking out that I cannot do it all.

So last week when I felt centered, grateful, and present through everything I was doing, I felt so humble, and was so proud of my perspective and head space I was in!

This week has been entirely different. I have been working really long hours, the reality of gift purchases hit me, and overall just feel way disconnected to my feelings. I feel I am forcing myself to breathe, and my body constantly felt tight, and anxious, as if I was wound up and need to lay like broccoli and do nothing for 10 hours straight.

Lessons Learned During Stresslesson-learned

I think the biggest gift I gave myself this week was the power of patience, kindness and ability to shift the anxiety into a place of gratitude. I also think having patience and understanding that no state of mind is constant; what we feel now will change, morph and pass through like the wind in nature. I am grateful I did not cling to the anxiety or pressure to be productive in every moment of the day. I decided to simplify my to do list, buy gifts online, and turn off the computer at 10pm every night. I needed to take a step back and ask “what will make me feel centered and mindful?” For me, gratitude lists are a wonderful gift.

I think in general when we get stressed we need to simplify things, get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, move if we can, and do the best we can. Keeping a list of all we have done, and what we need to do is an easy way to help organize us through this busy time. I consistently ask people to say five things they are grateful for before they go to bed, but during this time when people do feel stress and feel triggered, I would recommend taking mini gratitude breaks throughout the day.

Our lists do not need to be long or complex. One of my biggest gratitude's is having warm water to be able to take a bath and make doing dishes easier. I am grateful for the people in my life, having a home, a job, and the joy of being able to give to the people I love most. Sometimes we do not realize just how much we have.

The Power of Gratitudethank-you

Gratitude is my kind of mindfulness. Whenever I focus on gratitude it immediately makes me feel very present, and it is focused on what I have in this life, versus what I have to do. It makes me feel centered, mindful and refreshed. It also is a much needed break from the do do do of the holiday season.

It isn’t hard to shift ourselves into a place of gratitude. Take five minutes a day to just jot down, or mentally make note of things you are grateful for. Whenever you are anxious visualize one of the things you are most grateful for, and stay in that place while you focus on deep breathing.

Happy Holidays and Winter Solstice

This week is a full and amazing week if we allow it to be that. We can choose focus on the love we have in our life, the support we receive, and those who make our lives feel full. We have Hanukkah, Christmas, and Winter Solstice, and for me it is a time to embrace our differences, as well as our similarities. It comes down to seeing how far we have come, and how full our lives are at this very moment. Sure we may have a stressful day, or week, but if we consciously choose to shift our perspective to that of gratitude it can slow us down, let us embrace the moments, and take a break from the constant state of must do’s into that of the importance of self-care, kindness and self-love.

Make it a priority to take care of you, keep the perspective of gratitude, and embrace the present moments. Take some moments to be within the stillness. Seek out the quiet and embrace the quiet. If you feel overwhelmed and surrounded at all times, take a 5 minute walk outside to clear your head and re-connect with your inner self.

I believe the holiday isn’t just supposed to be about striving to “survive” the holiday season. I think that is selling ourselves short. It is about learning to thrive and embrace these moments!

I want to extend my gratitude to HealthyPlace for allowing me to be a voice, and to the fellow writers on this website, who consistently share their stories, share awareness and education of the importance of mental health. I am surrounded by amazing people.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

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APA Reference
Sebelius, K. (2011, December 22). Stress and Gratitude During the Holidays, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 16 from

Author: Kendra Sebelius

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