Coping with the Holidays

Woman overloaded with Christmas/holiday presents

It’s that time of year again: the holiday season is almost upon us. No matter what holidays you and your family celebrate, it’s likely that the next few months will be filled with family, friends, and food. And although this season can feel like “the most wonderful time of the year”, it can be incredibly stressful, too. 

If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, lonely, or depressed as we enter into the season, you’re not alone.

Iris the Dragon has your back with these quick tips to find some peace this holiday season.

Why is this important?

  • Unmanaged chronic stress can lead to health problems like high blood pressure and a weakened immune system.
  • One study suggested that holiday stress, combined with the overindulgence we tend to partake in during the season, increases the rate of deadly heart attacks in December and January. 
  • In that the holiday season makes them feel “joyful.”

How to cope with holiday related stress:

  • Set realistic expectations. Understand that the holidays won’t be perfect, and they don’t have to be. This tip may be especially relevant for this year’s holiday season. So much has changed, and the holidays might not be exactly the same as they were before. That’s okay -- practice accepting things for how they are.
  • Have boundaries and stick to them. You don’t have to say “yes” to everything just because it’s the holiday season. If you feel like you’re taking too much onto your plate, don’t be afraid to decline invitations or requests.
  • Don’t overspend. The holidays can quickly get expensive if you’re not careful. Suggest alternatives to your family to cut back on spending, if finances are a source of anxiety for you. For example, can you decide to give homemade gifts instead of buying new ones?
  • Reach out to loved ones. “Family” can look differently for everyone. If you’re feeling lonely this holiday season, don’t be afraid to reach out to the people in your life, even if they’re not blood relatives. Emotional support is key for getting through difficult times.
  • Stick to your self-care routine. It’s easy to get distracted from your daily routine during the holidays, but it’s more important than ever that you continue taking care of yourself if the holidays tend to be stressful for you. Get restful sleep, eat nourishing meals, and try to move your body.
  • Practice generosity and gratitude. Don’t let the holidays start to feel like an obligation. Research shows that practices like generosity, altruism, and gratitude give our mental health a boost. And aren’t gratitude and generosity what the holiday season is truly all about?


Click here to download this tip sheet in PDF format.


Baraz, J. (2010). 6 Simple Practices to Handle Holiday Stress. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from:

Mayo Clinic. Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for Coping. Retrieved from:

Phillips, D. P., Jarvinen, J. R., Abramson, I. S., & Phillips, R. R. (2004). Cardiac mortality is higher around Christmas and New Year's than at any other time: the holidays as a risk factor for death. Circulation, 110(25), 3781–3788.

WebMD. Beating Holiday Stress. Retrieved from:

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