8 Ways of Coping for the Holidays

Moksha Living
4 min readDec 21, 2023

By: Michell Stanley, LICSW, ACC, RYT

The holidays hold different meanings for each of us. However you choose to spend this season, it can bring a unique kind of stress. Family gatherings, reminders of what you lack, and the pressure to make everything perfect are just a few things that contribute to holiday stress.

Here are some straightforward tips for managing the most common holiday stressors so you can relax and rejuvenate during this time of the year.

Holiday Stressor #1 — Comparing Yourself to Others

Coping Strategy — Focus on What You Can Celebrate

It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing our lives to others, especially during the holidays. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and stress. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of your own life. Take time to appreciate your accomplishments, relationships, and the things that bring you joy. Practicing gratitude can help shift your perspective and reduce the pressure to measure up to others.

Holiday Stressor #2 — Using social media to Cope with Stress

A Better Coping Strategy: Do a Positivity Diet

Social media can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and stress, especially during the holiday season when people tend to showcase their seemingly perfect lives. For one day: Take a break from social media and engage only with uplifting and inspiring content. Positive music, podcasts, and movies can uplift your spirits and provide a much-needed break from the comparison game.

Holiday Stressor #3 — Toxic Relationships

Coping Strategy: Stop Trying to Change or Fix the Situation

Dealing with toxic relationships can be particularly challenging during the holidays. Instead of trying to change or fix the situation, focus on managing your own reactions. Take deep breaths, acknowledge your feelings, and recognize what you can and cannot control.

Holiday Stressor #4 — Unhealthy Eating & Drinking

Coping Strategy — Mindful Eating (and Drinking)

The holiday season often tempts us an abundance of rich foods and drinks, which can lead to overindulgence and guilt. Practicing mindful eating and drinking involves slowing down, being present, and paying attention to your body’s signals. Alternating alcoholic drinks with water, being aware of emotional eating triggers, and prioritizing self-care through adequate sleep, healthy eating, and regular exercise can help you maintain balance and reduce stress related to unhealthy habits.

Holiday Stressor #5 — Tiring Holiday Traditions

Coping Strategy: Simple Celebrations

Traditions that once brought joy can sometimes become burdensome, especially if they no longer align with your values or lifestyle. It’s important to give yourself permission to let go of traditions that no longer serve you. Focusing on simple celebrations that bring genuine joy and meaning to your life, rather than feeling obligated to uphold certain traditions, can alleviate stress and allow you to create new, more fulfilling holiday experiences.

Holiday Stressor #6 — Overspending

Coping Strategy — Spend Time Serving Others

The pressure to buy extravagant gifts and overspend during the holidays can lead to financial stress and anxiety. Shifting the focus from material gifts to acts of service and kindness can bring greater fulfillment. Consider giving non-material gifts or volunteering your time to help those in need. Serving others can provide a sense of purpose, boost your mood, and alleviate the stress associated with overspending.

Holiday Stressor #7 — Sadness

Coping Strategy: Self-Compassion

The holiday season can evoke a range of emotions, including sadness and loneliness. It’s important to acknowledge and validate your feelings without judgment. Practicing self-compassion involves allowing yourself to feel your emotions, even if it means experiencing sadness or shedding tears. Avoiding the urge to suppress or deny your emotions can lead to greater emotional well-being and reduce the stress of trying to put on a facade of holiday cheer.

Holiday Stressor #8 — Separation from Loved Ones

Coping Strategy: Send a Heartfelt Wish with No Need for Response

Being separated from loved ones during the holidays can be emotionally challenging. Instead of feeling helpless or disconnected, consider reaching out with a heartfelt message, even if a phone or video call isn’t feasible. Challenging the assumption that others are too busy or disinterested can open the door to meaningful connections and unexpected responses, helping to alleviate the stress of being apart from loved ones.

In conclusion, by implementing these coping strategies, you can navigate the holiday season with greater ease and resilience. Remember that it’s okay to prioritize your well-being and set boundaries that align with your needs and values. Embracing a mindset of gratitude, self-compassion, and simplicity can help you find joy and meaning amidst the holiday hustle. Wishing you a peaceful and rejuvenating holiday season filled with love, light, and cherished moments.

Michell Stanley Founder & Executive Director

My mission is to help people use emotional challenges as opportunities for self-growth and evolution. My holistic approach shows people how to get more Balance, Intimacy, and Trust in themselves and in their lives in order to thrive in the present and secure their legacy.