Brazil & Portugal  


Preparing for the Holidays, Managing Stress and Reflections on Gender-Based Violence

Joy, Happiness and also Stress

By Cidalia Pereira | December 17, 2021

The holiday season is upon us bringing joy, happiness and also stress and possible conflict to some family homes. Bringing family and friends together, holiday preparations, expenses for food and gifts can take a toll on individuals and families.

We may find our bank accounts and our patience with others stretched to its limits. The pandemic has also increased our anxiety and uncertainty leading to lower tolerance for stress and may lessen our positive coping behaviors.

So, what can we do to manage the possible stress that the holiday season brings? You may want to consider the following:

Awareness – Know your body and the signs of stress and develop strategies to monitor and manage your stress. Tension in your body? Try some slow, deep breaths coupled with some stretches.  How about a five or ten-minute walk while breathing deeply and noticing your surroundings?

Organize and Plan – Take stock of your resources for the holidays, prepare a budget and stick to it. If you cannot afford gifts or decorations, there are many creative giving options such as hand-made decorations, cards, homemade treats and giving the gift of your time. Making a “To Do” list in order to organize and plan for your holiday festivities can also be helpful.

Communicate and Ask for HelpDiscuss the holiday plans with your family and what task each one can take on. Check to see if they are comfortable taking on that responsibility. Remember it does not all have to fall onto you. Ask for help and set boundaries so you are not exhausted by the festivities.

Problem Solving – As much as you plan, chances are, somethings may not go as planned or hoped. Take a few deep breaths to help you focus and stay calm. Again, ask for help in resolving whatever the challenges that come your way. If there is conflict with someone, talk to the person about the problem. If they are upset, take a break and agree to come back to the issue when both are calm and ready to have a discussion. Is the conflict becoming hurtful or abusive? Know that there is always help. Below are numbers of helplines that can support you if you are feeling unsafe.


Gratitude – Take moment to reflect on what you are grateful for. Consider keeping a gratitude journal or having a “gratitude activity” with family or friends where you take turns sharing with each other what you are grateful for. These activities bring calm, appreciation and positive feelings to those who practice them. Gratitude also helps model for children that the holidays are not just about receiving gifts, but are about appreciation, care, gratitude and noticing the little things that make a difference.


Self-Care – In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we sometimes forget ourselves and the importance of looking after ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, move your body, as well as mentally and spiritually nurture yourself. Take time each day to practice activities that make you feel good.

Enjoy the holiday season with family and friends. Take care of yourself and take care of each other. If you or someone you know is living in an abusive relationship, please consider calling one of the numbers below:

If you are afraid of harm for yourself or others, call Emergency Services: 911.

If you are afraid for your safety or wanting to find a safe place call Assaulted Women’s Helpline: 416-397-0511 (interpreter available 24 hours / 7 days a week). From mobile phone #7233 or #SAFE for quick access.

If you are stressed and having feelings of self-harm call Toronto Distress Centre: 416-408-4357.

If you ae in crisis or overly stressed call the Gerstein Centre: 416-929-5200

For children feeling anxiety and stress call the Kids Helpline: 1-800-668-6868 or text 686868

Have a safe and peaceful holiday season!


Click here to receive our newsletter

Read  the latest issue of DISCOVER.  The magazine changed its format to an online and pocket version.  



Cidalia has been working with women with experiences of abuse and violence and supporting the Portuguese-speaking community for over 20 years. She applies her passion and commitment to provide counselling and support services that help youth, adults and seniors connect to possibilities and live happier and healthier lives.

Veja também