holiday stress

Navigating Stress During the Holiday Season

“The holidays can be a really stressful time for anyone,” says McCall’s Alicia Peterson, RSS, “especially if you have a family member or loved one who’s struggling with a substance use disorder.”

As a Family Recovery Coach, Alicia works with people to help them create boundaries, communicate effectively, and listen with empathy. Alicia herself is in long-term recovery. For her entire life, she has lived in a family of individuals who have substance use disorders. Sadly, she lost her father, her husband, her son’s father, and her sister, all within a two-year period.

Give yourself the gift of less pressure.

“Our society as a whole,” Alicia observes, “pays a lot of attention to social media, and tries to come up with the perfect holiday, the ideal holiday. We have to be aware that there is no such thing.” Alicia suggests we should all be mindful of the things we enjoy doing, and not overwhelm ourselves by saying yes to every invitation. You shouldn’t feel pressure to live up to everything other people expect of you.

“Just take it slow,” Alicia advises. Sometimes it’s important to ask your family member or loved one what you can do to help support them if they’re trying to cut down their usage. Coming up with new, alcohol and drug-free traditions can be key in this kind of situation. Try not to have expectations of other people. “We can just manage how we feel and how we act,” Alicia points out.

If anyone needs help communicating with their family members this season, you’re more than welcome to get in touch with Alicia. She knows how stressful the holidays can be. She’s available Monday through Friday. Call her cell at 959.229.4814 or her office number at 860.294.4044. You can also email her at

Give others the gift of mental health support.

In this season of giving, McCall’s Director of Development and Marketing Marisa Mittelstaedt, MBA, is bringing attention to individuals who may be facing mental health disorders. “This year, through our Annual Appeal, we’re raising money to support programs for children and seniors,” Marisa explains. “We look at who is really struggling now. Oftentimes, they can’t necessarily speak for themselves. We’re asking our community to help us support these populations and all the people we serve.”

The statistics show that the need for support is real:

  • Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin before the age of 14. (That’s why programs that support early interventions are so important.)
  • 23% of Connecticut residents aren’t getting the mental health support that they need.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 Connecticut residents have had symptoms of mental health disorder.

Reach out to help yourself or to support others in need.

“We’re really so grateful for all the support from our community,” Marisa adds. “Whether you are able to donate or looking for help for yourself, please reach out to us.”

It’s easy to contact the McCall Behavioral Health Network. Call our main office at 860.496.2100. Or chat with us online at

It’s also easy to donate to our 2023 Annual Appeal, just visit