Dealing with Holiday Stress: “This is for Fun?” (During Quarantine?!)

Current Status
Not Enrolled
Get Started

Format: Lecture and Discussion

Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D., L.M.F.T. (resume)
3056 Castro Valley Blvd., #82,
Castro Valley, CA 94546
(510) 582-5788 Office - (510) 889-6553 fax


Advance Instructional Level

Description: While individuals, families, and especially society and the media promote holiday celebrations as joyous often family focused events, they can create extraordinary stress for a multitude of reasons. Some reasons are practical, others are tied to expectations (reasonable and unreasonable), and others still have deeply (and sometimes, problematic) symbolism. Some circumstances, experiences, or memories can be stressful, triggering, and even traumatic depending on individual development. Who and what may be triggering will be discussed, along with direction to modulate potential issues. Holiday stress will be related to other stresses that are often the focus of therapy, along with principles and strategies to empower individuals through it and heal and grow.

Celebrations and holidays often have ethnic, racial, historical, and cultural foundations that may or may not be lost or emphasized. Conflict between more traditional and more derivative (including commercialized) customs and expectations will be considered that reflect the diversity of celebrations and celebrants.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Participants will be able to identify physiological effects of the stress response.
  • Participants will be able to name expectations and disappointments that create holiday stress.
  • Participants will be able to identify factors that may turn stress into trauma.
  • Participants will be able to name underlying issues that make someone more prone to holiday and other stress,

Biography: Ronald Mah, M.A., Ph.D., L.M.F.T. provides psychotherapy in California. With extensive background in education, multi-cultural, and social services, and authoring books in discipline & behavior, he individualizes therapy according to logical emotional, cognitive, social, spiritual, familial, & cultural roots that led to current behavior for youth, adults, couples, and families

Timed outline for 3 CEU

8:30am Registration

8:45am: “Regular Stress”- Concerns, Fears, & Effects

  • DAMAGES from stress; SELF-ESTEEM and Stress; When stress becomes FRUSTRATION
  • Physiological Factors of Stress - The FLIGHT OR FIGHT PRINCIPLE
  • Type A Personalities & Hypervigilance; Learned Helplessness

Expectations… Meaning

  • Celebration, Reunions, Gatherings, Shopping, Outings, Food,.....More and More
  • A Magical Time...A Stressful Time
  • That Hot Toy...and the Pressure is On!

Who’s at the party? Is this a ________ person?

Reality & A Loss of Innocence

  • Stress: Good Parenting & Disappointment
  • Old Stress Creating New Stress
  • The Challenge & the Opportunity of Holiday Stress

(Holiday) Stress Builders: Denial; Intensification; Avoidance behavior; Hypervigilance; Passive-Aggressive Action; Co-Dependent Behavior

(Holiday) Stress Releasers: Proactive Action; Cathartic Release; Physical Release; Breathing; Rest; Self-Nurturing; Seeking Help; Understanding/Insight

10:15am: BREAK

10:30am: ACES

From Stress to Trauma - one or more of these factors are involved:

  • the severity of the event;
  • the individual's personal history (which may not even be recalled);
  • the larger meaning the event represents for the individual (which may not be immediately evident);
  • coping skills, values and beliefs held by the individual (some of which may have never been identified); and
  • the reactions and support from family, friends, and/or professionals.

Building Strong & Resilient Children and People

12:00pm: Evaluation

Jarrett, Christian, Wish You Were Here? Psychologist. Aug2011, Vol. 24 Issue 8, p574-578.

Kozlowska, Kasia; Walker, Peter; McLean, Loyola; Carrive, Pascal, Fear and the Defense Cascade: Clinical Implications and Management. Harvard Review of Psychiatry. Jul/Aug2015, Vol. 23 Issue 4, p263-287.

Sauerheber, Jill Duba; Disque, J. Graham, Traumatic Early Recollections: Recognizing States of Reactivation and Intervention. Journal of Individual Psychology. Spring2018, Vol. 75 Issue 1, p58-74.

Schänzel, Heike A.; Smith, Karen A., The Socialization of Families Away from Home: Group Dynamics and Family Functioning on Holiday. Leisure Sciences. Mar/Apr2014, Vol. 36 Issue 2, p126-143.

Syrek, Christine J.; Weigelt, Oliver; Kühnel, Jana; de Bloom, Jessica, All I want for Christmas is recovery - changes in employee affective well-being before and after vacation. Work & Stress. Oct-Dec2018, Vol. 32 Issue 4, p313-333.

Scroll to Top