Survive and Thrive During the Holidays

Seven tips from the Clinical Team

How can you survive and thrive during the holidays? If you are looking forward to celebrating with friends and family and feeling anxiety creeping in, there are things you can do to lessen stress over the next few weeks.

  • Rethink perfection

The time we spend with others does not have to be perfect to be great and memorable. Before you set the bar impossibly high for yourself and others, ask yourself what you really enjoyed about last year and other years. We can’t recreate the perfect holiday and all its traditions, but choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new ones.

  • Acknowledge your feelings

The holidays can be a trigger for some. It’s okay to feel sadness, grief, and loneliness and take the time to express it. You may not feel like attending every event, and that’s okay. You can commit to something that sounds fun while reminding yourself that you don’t have to stay for its entirety.

  • Reach out to others

When we are feeling lonely or isolated, reaching out to friends, family, and other community supports can make a huge difference. Many free online support groups and virtual events can offer support and a sense of community when we need to look outside our normal circle of support.

  • Stick to a spending plan

Decide how much you will spend before starting your gift shopping. Know how much you can afford and stay within your guidelines. Look for local items to prevent worrying if things will arrive in time when the supply chain has slowed down significantly. Give experiences (think memberships to children’s attractions) to younger family members and consumables or donations in their name to older family members.

  • Don’t abandon healthy habits

It’s easy to say, “After New Year’s, I will…” but the reality is you will feel better and have less stress and guilt if you try to stick with the things that are already working for you. Eat healthy meals, get lots of sleep, and continue with your regular physical activity. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and drug use, and be sure to stay hydrated with lots of water. Adjust the time that you use social media to ensure you don’t miss “real’ moments.

  • Take a break

Making a little time for yourself can actually make you more productive. A quick walk outside, reading or listening to music for a bit, or just spending time alone can clear your mind and restore your calm. It doesn’t have to be a long time period to be helpful and reduce some stress.

  • Be kind

When you encounter a difficult person, you can often respond too quickly and regret your response. Taking a deep breath can give you a second to shift your perspective and respond with kindness. Don’t expect people to magically change during the holidays. Recognizing that they will continue to be themselves can make interactions with family members much more pleasant.

The holiday season can bring a lot of joy and merriment, but it can also be overwhelming and stressful. Take it one moment at a time and celebrate the positives that happen along the way.


Check out these additional resources.

Stress Management from Mayo Clinic
Free Holiday Resources
How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays