Virginia Tech psychology professor shares tips to deal with holiday season stress and anxiety

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- It’s an exciting month — wrapping gifts, seeing family and returning home for a visit. But for some people, the holiday season can be challenging.

Rosanna Breaux, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech, says although this is supposed to be the happiest time of year, there are several reasons why people might not feel that way.

“Having poor relationships with family members, having financial struggles, or having a recent death in the family — there’s lots of  things that could make it not so happy,” Breaux said.

According to Breaux, these are things that can lead to stress and anxiety, especially this time of year. She tells 8News there are several ways to manage both, including being proactive and knowing what you can handle.

“We live in a commercial society and there’s always this pressure of needing to give and make it go over the top,” Breaux said. “Really just think about what are the things that matter and are special to you.”

She recommends people focus less on gifts and spending more time with family, including doing activities with them.

“Baking a special treat can be just as great as a gift as actually giving something,” Breaux said. “All of the commercials, all of the things going on, make us feel like we need to do more and more and go above and beyond.”

Breaux also says people should focus on their individual coping skills and ways to feel more positive.

“For some people that’s social interaction, for others it is engaging in positive self-care like exercise,” Breaux said.

She also recommends people focus on each day rather than each individual holiday.