The holiday season is often said to be the ‘most wonderful time of the year,’ however, navigating the holiday season often entails more than the joyful facade that’s advertised.  

As a therapist, I have observed and personally experienced the emotional complexities that people experience during this time; the transition to colder months and reduced daylight can trigger a range of feelings like low mood, lack of motivation, loss of interest, or increased fatigue. Paired with financial pressures, social/familial obligations, and navigating loss or grief, while simultaneously attempting to maintain a festive spirit can lead to feelings of being stressed, burned out, or overwhelmed. 

As the holiday events unfold, an accumulation of stress and exhaustion can lead to a state of holiday blues, or a period of increased painful reflection, loneliness, worry, and/or sadness. It is crucial to recognize and address these challenges, acknowledging that the holiday season, while festive, can also be mentally and emotionally taxing for many.  

Here are a few ways to weather the holiday storm(s):  

Acknowledge Your Feelings 

Understanding your feelings isn’t just about knowing their names; it’s about figuring out why you feel a certain way. Take a moment to dig into the why behind your feelings, and tune into your emotional states with curiosity, empathy, and self-compassion. This practice enriches your understanding of your emotional landscape and provides you with valuable insights during the holidays but also in everyday life. 

Take Care of Your Physical Health  

In the midst of the holiday hustle, remember the importance of your physical well-being. Recommend prioritizing rest, staying hydrated, and maintaining regular exercise. Your emotional state is influenced by your physical health. Caring for your body establishes a groundwork for emotional resilience and stability, amplifying your ability to manage and comprehend your emotions with clarity. 

Stick to a Routine 

Maintain a consistent daily routine, even during the holidays. Routines provide structure and predictability, which can be incredibly grounding. Having a regular sleep schedule, meal times, and moments for relaxation can create a sense of stability, countering the overwhelming nature of the holiday season. 

Prioritize Healthy Connections 

Reach out to supportive friends, family, or even a therapist if needed. Healthy connections are invaluable during challenging times. Engage in meaningful conversations, share your feelings, and lean on your support network. Connecting with others on an emotional level can provide comfort, understanding, and a sense of belonging. 

Reduce Stress where you Can  

To reduce stress, align your expectations with reality. Identify stress sources and plan to avoid them if possible. Eliminate non-essential tasks and set achievable goals. Be ready for setbacks and avoid over-committing to others’ expectations. Above all, prioritize self-care and dedicate time to reset.  

In the midst of the holiday whirlwind, it’s vital to remember that even just five minutes invested in any of the above practices can make a significant difference. Taking a moment to acknowledge your emotions, care for your physical well-being, stick to a routine, nurture healthy connections, or reduce stress can serve as a powerful reset button. These small yet intentional steps can help you navigate the holiday season with greater ease and emotional balance. By dedicating a brief moment to your well-being, you’re not just weathering the holiday storm; you’re actively cultivating a sense of calm and resilience that can carry you through the festivities and beyond. Remember, amidst the chaos, your well-being matters, and investing a few minutes in self-care can be the anchor that steadies you in the midst of the holiday whirlwind.