Coping Through the Holidays

family holidaysWith the holidays quickly approaching, how are you preparing yourself with all the demands and expectations that go with family gatherings, gifts and holiday cheer? No doubt, you want things to go well and to make the holidays as enjoyable and memorable as possible for those you love. But — what about you and your feelings?

Research has shown that a significant number of people associate the holidays with a time of anxiety, loss, regret and loneliness. Holiday blues are a common occurrence brought on by stress, fatigue, unrealized expectations, financial restraints, social obligations, over-commercialization and previous unpleasant experiences. All of us have experienced these feelings in some form or another and have laughed at the seasonal movies that satire the awkward family moments and the gifts that are certain to be “re-gifted”.

So – how do you cope? You can relieve holiday stresses by planning and preparing now and by following the HOLIDAY acronym that I have shared with my clients to help them throughout the holiday season.


Handle holiday plans with care. Be realistic with your expectations. Plan your menus, gift giving ideas and participation in festivities. Set realistic goals for your ever changing family’s needs. Include them in the decision making. Some rituals are good to hold on to while letting go of those that have lost its significance.


Outreach. The holidays are a great time to volunteer with your family and reach out to those in need. This can create a more meaningful experience. Include those who may not have family around or widows and newly single – who may not have any where to go for the holidays.


Learn to say “No.” Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Be clear about what you want and stick with it. Set a realistic budget for gift giving and holiday meals. Remember you can’t buy happiness.


Include others by reaching out for their help. Most people want to be helpful but have no idea what you’re needing – unless you ask. Children can participate in the tasks at hand. As Nana often reminded, “many hands make light work” (John Heywood).


Don’t abandon healthy habits. The holidays shouldn’t be an excuse for overindulgence. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity. Make time to exercise. It increases your overall health and your sense of well-being.


Allow time for yourself. Be mindful of your emotional well-being. Talk with someone whom you trust to vent your frustrations. If the stresses of the holidays are too much to handle take a break. Make time to take care of yourself.


You are wonderful! BE the person you want to be around. Similar to the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want them to treat you and treat yourself the way you want to be treated.
May your holidays keep you ever present, living “in the moment” with those you love. Loving and fulfilling relationships are the key to creating the holiday memories that will last a lifetime.

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