Managing Stress During the Holidays

The holidays can bring about stress, anxiety, and depression for many people, especially those who live with a mental health condition.  It is very important to give extra attention to your mental health during this time of year.

Photo of stressed Santa

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,

Extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even sentimental memories that accompany the season can be a catalyst for the holiday blues. Some can be at risk for feelings of loneliness, sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss.

A lot of seasonal factors can trigger the holiday blues such as, less sunlight, changes in your diet or routine, alcohol at parties, over-commercialization or the inability to be with friends or family. These are all factors that can seriously affect your mood.

NAMI Tips for Managing the Holiday Blues


During the season of giving, it is important that you also take time out to think about yourself and your mental health.  The holidays can be very demanding, so it is important that you take measures to take care of yourself and manage the stress that comes along with the season.  Here are some tips for managing stress during the holidays.

  1. Acknowledge Your Feelings– the holidays can bring up a range of emotions from sadness, loss, frustration, anger, and that is okay.  Just because it is a happy time of year, does not exclude you from feeling those emotions.  Allow yourself to feel those emotions, regardless of whether they are happy or not.
  2. Take a Breather– with all of the hustle and bustle, it is important to remember to take a moment to slow down and breathe.  Breathing and taking a break can greatly diminish the feeling of stress.  Set aside time in your schedule to take a walk, care for yourself, and just take a break.
  3. Get Some Rest– The holidays often interrupt our routines and schedules.  This often leads to a lack of sleep, which alone can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.  It is important to make sure you are getting enough sleep.  If you are traveling or staying up late, be sure to schedule time for yourself to rest.
  4. Plan Ahead– Stress is inevitable during this time of year, but having a plan can help you feel more in control.  Having a thought out plan will decrease the amount of stress you feel when your schedule is busy.
  5. Spend Time with Supportive Friends and Family– Take this time of year to be with those who care about you and want what is best for you.  Everyone’s support system looks differently, but make sure you set aside time to spend with those who genuinely support you and care for you.
  6. Budget– The holiday season can be very expensive. From buying gifts and food to traveling and entertainment,  this time of year put a strain on your finances.  Plan ahead and make a holiday budget.  It is okay to set limits on how much you will spend on gifts, limit the amount of travel you will do, or opt for free entertainment.  Because finances are one of the leading causes of stress, having a budget can greatly reduce the stress and anxiety during the holidays.
  7. Give Back– The holidays are often referred to as the season of giving.  Take some time to volunteer or give back to your community.  Doing something for someone else can give you a great sense of accomplishment while giving you an avenue to release stress.
  8. Look Forward to a New Beginning– Instead of looking back on things that may cause feelings of anxiety or depression from the past, look onto new beginnings.  There is a new year coming up, so set your focus on the days ahead instead of the past.  You have the power to change the future.
  9. Get Help If You Need It– do not be afraid to reach out for professional help if you need it.  The holidays can be very overwhelming, and there are professionals out there to help you cope and support you through this difficult time.  To see a list of professional services in your area, go to
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