How to Cope With Holiday Stress
Updated: May 27
What is "holiday stress"?
Holidays are often portrayed as happy and exciting times with family/friends, but they can also be a time of added stress. If you already experience anxiety or depression, it can be especially challenging to manage during this season.
Reasons for holiday stress
1. Ongoing pandemic
Although restrictions have eased in many places, COVID-19 continues to be a risk. It can be stressful to think of attending larger gatherings for fear of getting sick.
2. Family obligations
Balancing various family events can make your schedule feel hectic! Not to mention if there are challenging family dynamics involved.
3. High expectations
Keeping up with past family traditions, posting images on social media, and trying to have a “perfect” holiday can create stress.
This time of year can be a reminder of a lost family member or anyone close to you. Whatever your relationship was, it can bring up many different feelings.
5. Feeling isolated
Many people may not have others to celebrate with because they may be far from home, may have difficult relationships with their families, or may be alone. This can increase feelings of isolation.
6. Pressure around gift-buying
Going to crowded malls, picking the “right” gift, financial stress, and having a long list of people to buy for can add to holiday stress.
7. Increased workload
Some workplaces are extremely busy during the holidays and end of year which can mean long hours, additional tasks, and tight deadlines.
8. Reflecting on accomplishments
Last year's resolutions that may have not been completed can increase anxiety/stress around not feeling accomplished.
What are the symptoms of holiday stress?
Ways to cope with holiday stress
1. Set aside time for yourself
Engage in a self-care activity like a massage, a relaxing hobby, or being with friends.
2. Focus on your health
Limit alcohol, avoid using food to cope with stress, and don’t withdraw from others.
Exercising can reduce anxiety, lower stress, and is good for your overall wellbeing!
4. Get good rest
Practice going to bed and waking up at a consistent time, relaxing before bed, and reducing screen time at least 30 minutes before sleep.
5. Be aware of your feelings
Notice the signs of stress before they get too overwhelming (challenging thoughts, feelings, or behaviours).
6. Learn to say “no”
Be mindful of taking on too much responsibility or spending too much time with people who cause you stress.
7. Get organized
Give yourself enough time so you are not rushed, plan ahead for events/outings, share tasks with others, and make organized lists.
8. Focus on what you can control
Shift your attention to how you react to problems, and not on the areas where you have little or no control.
9. Reframe how you see things
Try to view problems from different angles and restructure your thoughts.
10. Help others in need
Volunteering or donating to a cause you care about can add value to your time and make you feel part of a community.
11. Focus on the big picture
Reflect on whether it’s worth stressing out about a specific situation in the long run.
12. Get support
Talk to someone you trust like a family member, friend, or professional.
A mindful approach
Be okay with imperfection
We are not perfect beings and that's okay! Some imperfection along the way is expected and is normal.
Take opportunities to reflect
If something is causing you stress, it might be a good idea to reflect on why and what changes you can make.
Reminding yourself to be understanding of your experience can be helpful, as well as responding to others with kindness.
Create small, realistic goals
Breaking down large tasks into smaller actions can alleviate your stress.
Realize that some stress if expected
Prepare yourself this holiday season by recognizing that some stress is normal.
Last of all, try to have some fun. You deserve it!