The Holidays are here and typically that might come with expectations of cheer.

Perhaps you have holidays coming up this month, maybe family members are coming together more and more, school might be out for the kiddos for a few weeks, and every commercial under the sun is marketing products to bring joy your way.

However, for some, this season can bring some very real and very present stress or sadness. The expectations to be happy with loved ones during this time can sometimes take over and create overwhelming or sad situations. If you have lost a loved one recently, if you are managing an illness, financial burdens or if you are managing any other stressors right now, joy might not seem normal or even attainable. If you are feeling the stress or sadness coming your way this holiday season, then check out some coping tips below.

*Please note that if you are experiencing a mental health crisis, or severe emergent distress, please contact a health care provider or text “HOME” to 741741*

Notice and acknowledge your feelings:

If someone close to you has recently died or if you’re unable to be with loved ones for other reasons, it can be important to realize that it’s completely normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s valid and totally understandable if you need to take time to cry or express your feelings. It can be important to acknowledge that there is no real obligation to force yourself to be happy or joyful just because it’s the holiday season.

If noticing your feelings is something new for you, it can be helpful to take a pause when the stress or sadness comes your way and to ask yourself:

  • What is going on right now?
  • What is happening that might be making me feel this way?
  • What is happening in my body?
  • What do I need in this moment?

By taking the time to assess the situation, you’re allowing yourself to come to a place of coping and responsiveness rather than reactivity (which can further perpetuate stress).

Stick to the habits that you know work for you:

One thing that I’ve mentioned before is the importance of routine and in this case, it’s no different. If you have elements of your routine that you know work for you then it can be important to stick to them.

It’s totally understandable that added family or social functions, might throw these things off a bit, but, if possible, still go on those walks, nourish your body with the food it needs to sustain itself, keep up with your meditation, or journal.

If keeping up with your habits proves to be completely unattainable, make sure you can at least set a date on the calendar for them to resume.

Remember your best friend boundaries:

Sometimes saying yes when you know that it may be best to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes saying no to someone or something can allow you to say yes to yourself.

Ultimately, friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If you find that it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime or in other situations, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time. Only you know what’s best for your overall wellbeing, so taking the time to allow space for it can help you in reducing stress and sadness during this time.

Wishing you a healthy holiday season!



About the author

Becca is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Associate who gives us her expert perspective on Emotional Health and Wellness. She holds an M.A in Education with an emphasis in Counseling as well as an M.S. in Counseling with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from San Diego State University.  Each month she writes about mental health and how to feel your best!
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