Holiday Season Stress

The holiday carols are singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

How do you feel about the holiday season? Is it always wonderful? Or not so much?

The holidays are filled with stress, expectations, and the pressure to be happy and make others happy. (Even if it is the furthest feeling from the truth.) We all know that depression and suicides increase during this time of the year. Why is this? 

Let’s take a look at some of the most prevalent holiday stressors:

Financial Stress

This is the time when many people come to an awareness of their true financial state. The year is almost over and you assess if you have any savings or are you more in debt than when you started at the beginning of the year.

Gift Giving

It’s time to decide who you “should” buy to and what to buy. Unraveling feelings of obligation, guilt, selfishness, and inadequacy if you can’t afford to give gifts. Or you don’t want to give a gift but feel like the Grinch if you don’t.


Alcohol, drugs, sugar, carbs, spending – the list goes on. Those unhealthy habits take over telling us, “It’s our last chance to (fill in the blank).” Or, “I/We deserve to indulge because we’re so stressed!”

Relationships with Family and Friends 

We find ourselves revisiting negative memories of disagreements with family or/and friends. We find ourselves obligated to tolerate unloving behavior.

Grief – Remembering Loved Ones Lost

This is an especially lonely time for people who are grieving. We all experience grief as we remember those no longer with us, whether it be family, friends, or beloved pets.

Sharing or Splitting Time with Loved Ones

If you’re divorced, it’s painful to split your time with the children. Or if you are in a relationship it can be stressful when agreeing as to which parents or other family members to visit etc. Regardless, feelings of loss, loneliness, anger, frustration can arise.

My purpose for listing these stressors is to let you know that you are not alone. We see the happy TV commercials, the holiday carols etc., and we can judge ourselves harshly because we feel out of step with the rest of the world. You are not alone! People can wear a mask of happiness when underneath they are falling apart. Yet, when alone, they can feel the true feelings bubble up to the surface.

Tips to Handle Holiday Stress

  • Assess the sources of your stress. 
  • Allow yourself to acknowledge the truth of your feelings.
  • Make a plan of action: think things through – what will be the consequences? What is in your most loving interest?
  • Set your intention for how you want to handle the holiday season. Choose a mantra, word or phrase to remind yourself of this commitment.  Say this often throughout the day.
  • Increase your self-care during this time. For instance, deep breathing can bring focus and clarity during chaotic times. A few quiet moments alone can help you regroup and feel more grounded and prepared to handle challenges.
  • Remember: this too shall pass! How do you want to feel at the end of the holiday season as you enter into the New Year? The choices you make today affect your tomorrow. 

We cannot control other people, places, or things, but we can attempt to master ourselves. Herein lies our power; the power to choose how you intend to handle this Holiday Season.