Recommendations for Stress and Conflict Free Holidays


The holidays are a time of joy and togetherness, but often the holidays are the times we experience stress and family conflict. The Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene would like to offer a few recommendations on how families and individuals might better cope with the potential stress and conflict associated with the holiday season.

Limit the use of alcohol and other substances. It is the season to be merry, but remember moderation. Holiday parties are often festive and may present many opportunities to celebrate in various customs. As you might suspect, the holiday season then becomes one of the most dangerous times of the year for alcohol-related accidents and death. It becomes more acceptable to drink because the occasional drinkers are also more likely to abuse alcohol during this time of year. More people drink during the holidays due to numerous parties and other festivities. The holidays are a busy time, and people are hurrying more than normal with winter road conditions, making driving more dangerous. Add alcohol to this picture and you have a recipe for disaster. Be safe this holiday season. Resist the pressure to drink, offer nonalcoholic beverages, and always have a designated driver.
Set differences aside for the holidays. The combination of generations and family groups can lead to disagreements between the younger and the older members of the family. Differences may develop over a variety of topics such as worldviews and political beliefs. Criticism is a common cause of family conflict, and we all have family members who may seem critical, interfering, demanding, and meddlesome. Discussing ground rules with family to avoid troublesome topics may help dodge some potentially difficult situations with all the family members involved. Agreeing to disagree is an approach some might attempt to use to put their differences aside during the holiday season.

Create new family rituals and traditions. Holidays can be particularly stressful for blended families. While these times can trigger memories of previous family holidays and a sense of loss, they can also provide a time for families to create new rituals and increase the “feeling like a family.” Holidays and celebrations provide opportunities for the creation of new family traditions and cherished memories.
While you may feel stressed during the holiday season due to competing family obligations, there is also a great potential for moving forward and creating a stronger family unit. Creating new family traditions and memories can help eliminate the pain associated with the sense of loss of past traditions.

Acknowledge your own needs and limitations. During these stressful times around the holidays, acknowledge your own feelings, especially if someone close to the family has recently died or cannot be with you. It is normal to feel sadness and grief. Reach out to others for help, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, or lost. It is natural for people to want to help each other and you do not have to be sad or stressed in silence. Keep a realistic schedule during the holidays and be sure to save some time and energy for yourself. Planning time for yourself and your personal needs can replenish and provide resiliency for coping with the stressful situations you are bound to encounter during the holiday season.

If you ever feel concerned about yourself or a loved one during the holiday season, there is help available locally.

“We all encounter difficulties in our lives at some point,” said Misty Pennington, Mental Hygiene Program Coordinator. “At the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, we view seeking help as a strength, not a weakness. We are available and ready to help.” The Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene has clinics in both Jamestown (716) 661-1590 and Dunkirk (716) 366-7660. Call for an appointment or stop in to take advantage of open access walk in times.

Community Resources:

Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline: 1-800-724-0461, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Chautauqua Opportunities, Inc. Mobile Crisis Team, 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and 24 hours on weekends and holidays, accessed through the Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline

Chautauqua County Mental Hygiene Clinics, Jamestown: (716) 661-8330, Dunkirk: (716) 363-3550

UPMC Chautauqua Outpatient Mental Health Program, Dunkirk: (716) 664-8641

The Resource Center Mental Health, Jamestown: (716) 661-1590, Dunkirk: (716) 366-7660

Hospice Chautauqua County Bereavement Services (all ring into the administrative offices), Jamestown/Lakewood: (716) 338-0033, Dunkirk/Fredonia: (716) 672-6944, Mayville: (716) 753-5383

Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County, Support and Linkages: (716) 661-9044

The Chautauqua Center, Jamestown: (716) 484-4334, Dunkirk (716) 363-6050

Family Service of the Chautauqua Region (716) 488-1971 or Toll-Free 1-888-358-3899

NYS HOPEline is a telephone support and referral line that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for treatment of addictions. Text or call: 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-877-846-7369)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis.