Mental Health Monday: How to Handle Holiday Stress


Des Moines Mom wants to create a safe space for ongoing conversations about mental health. In the past couple of years, it is a topic that people are more comfortable talking about, but there is still room for growth.

mental health monday

If you are like everyone else this year, the Christmas season started on November 1. And a longer holiday season just seems to mean more time for me to stress about shopping for gifts for my kids, creating picturesque memories, and nailing the smiling Christmas morning picture with my family. By the time December 25 actually rolls around, I’m exhausted from weeks of carrying around the mental load of a “perfect” Christmas. 

We are delighted to be able to speak with Vicky Wieben about mental health tips for handling holiday stress. Vicky is the mom to two young kids and the owner of Bright Light Counseling in Johnston. She is a licensed independent social worker and registered play therapist.

3 Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

woman holiday stress

  1. Decide what matters to you this holiday – ie: love and connection with our friends and families. Not winning conversations, not decorating a perfect tree, not the picture-perfect family photo. 
  2. Expect imperfections. The holiday season is not some magical time where everything (and everyone) goes perfectly. Movies are movies and social media is just a single moment captured in time. Hallmark movies are not a good indicator of what real life looks like.
  3. Kindness matters.
    • Be kind to yourself — You’re doing the best you can with the circumstances that have been given to you. Modeling kindness to yourself, in front of your kids, demonstrates to them that perfection is not the end goal and they will be loved regardless of their achievements. 
    • Be kind to others — How people treat you says more to what’s going on in their hearts and in their lives than what’s going on in your life. Likewise, how we treat others is a reflection on us and on our hearts.  

Watch more of my conversation with Vicky Wieben about “How to Handle Holiday Stress.”

Connect with Vicky Wieben & Bright Light Counseling

Email at [email protected]

Thank you for making time to take one step further in normalizing the conversation about mental health. In this ongoing monthly series, we will be talking about mental health for ourselves, for our kids, our spouses, and our families. 

See more of our conversations about Mental Health

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Kara Knaack
Kara originally hails from northwest Iowa where she met her husband, Lance, through a 4-H fashion show. After a decade of living in central Iowa, Kara is still figuring out which way is north. Wearing the hat of “wife, mommy, employee, chef, ribbon tie-er and family calendar organizer,” Kara knows a bit about juggling life and work. Kara became a boy-mom in June of 2011 to Lucan and a girl-mom to Gracelyn in December of 2014. Most days you can find her mixing up metaphors and oversharing life’s moments via social media. Kara enjoys yoga, reading, gardening, cooking, sewing in straight lines and singing along to musicals. A spender by nature, but thrifty by necessity, Kara is always in hunt of a bargain. She’s an active member of Northpoint Church and a resident of Grimes. Her vision for life includes “doing the best we can with what God gives us.”


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