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  • Writer's pictureAttentive Psychotherapy & Counseling Center

Your Holiday Survival Guide

Managing Stress This Season

Decorations are going up, invitations are going out, and the rumblings of the holiday season can be heard for miles. For some, this is a delight. For others, it’s a signal that major mental stress is on its way.

If you already struggle with your mental health, this might be a time that anxiety symptoms and depression symptoms get even worse. This year, set yourself up with healthy boundaries and a self-care plan that will help you survive the stress of the season.

Time with loved ones

Above all, the holidays are a time to cherish the relationships we hold most dear. But navigating a relationship with someone you haven’t seen in a while, balancing your time with new and old friends, and putting up with the not-so-loved ones can make this time that should feel so simple actually feel really chaotic.

It can be tempting to devote all your time to everyone, but that can leave you spread thin. It’s important to be realistic about what you can do with your time and energy. Be honest with yourself about which social engagements, if any, will leave you feeling loved and cared for this season.


If you anticipate you might get into a sticky situation with a friend or family member, think ahead of time about how you’ll communicate your boundaries. Are there certain topics you’d like to avoid because you know they’ll cause an argument? Will you politely decline giving or receiving gifts? Are there certain non-negotiables that might cause you to leave an event early? Make note of these beforehand, and if you can, communicate your boundaries well in advance.

It can be tough to set boundaries with family, especially if it’s new for both of you. Changing the status quo in any relationship takes patience and effort. If it’s been a while since you’ve seen someone, it’s likely you’ve each changed the way you operate.

Maybe you’re a first-year college student coming back home for the first time. The last time your parents saw you, they were doling out rules, chores, and curfews. If you’re stuck feeling like a teenager again when you’re back at your parents’ house, open the floor for a conversation about some new rules (or lack thereof). Approaching this conversation in a mature, adult way can show them you’re ready for the freedom and responsibility that you’re asking for.


No matter what you’re dealing with this holiday season, remember to make time for self-care. Carve out time to be alone if you need it, and make your coping skills easily accessible. Can you bring your headphones and step outside for a walk with your favorite music? Can you schedule an extra session with your therapist? Can you spend some quiet time journaling?

Whatever stress treatment you choose, give yourself permission to take a break from the action to engage with it. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t handle every situation this holiday season perfectly. Just trying out new strategies is a big step!

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