The holiday season is just around the corner and while it’s a time of celebration and togetherness for many, it can also be a period of heightened stress, anxiety, and depression for others. There are many strategies you can implement to help you navigate the holiday season with your mental health in mind. By planning ahead and being aware of your emotions, you can better prepare to cope with any challenges that may arise during this festive time.

Set Realistic Expectations

One key to minimizing holiday stress is to set realistic expectations. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. Traditions naturally evolve and change over time as families grow. Recognizing and accepting this fact will make the season more enjoyable for you, as you can let go of that ‘perfect’ picture you have, and just be in the moment with your loved ones.

Maintain a clear budget to avoid financial strain, and managing your time and travel schedule efficiently are also important facets of setting realistic expectations. Having a budget and a schedule will allow you to better align your expectations with reality, which will reduce stress, and create a holiday season that is both enjoyable and sustainable for your mental health.

Practice Self-Care

Amid the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, don’t forget to make time for yourself. Practicing self-care is crucial. Find an activity that reduces your stress and helps clear your mind. Whether it’s taking a peaceful walk, listening to soothing music or an inspiring podcast, reading a good book, confiding in a trusted friend, or simply enjoying a favorite movie, these moments of self-indulgence can provide essential emotional relief, and dedicated time for just you.

Establish Boundaries

The holidays can bring an influx of social commitments and obligations, which can be mentally and emotionally draining for many people, as it can be a struggle to balance everything on our plate. It’s important to establish boundaries and learn to say no when necessary.

Overcommitting can lead to burnout and increased stress, in an already stressful and busy season. Prioritize the events that are most meaningful and fulfilling, and gracefully decline those that may cause undue stress. Your well-being should be at the forefront of your decision-making during this season.

Limit alcohol use

Alcohol consumption often sees a spike during the holiday season as individuals attempt to unwind and alleviate stress, and gather for seasonal celebrations. However, alcohol can have many negative impacts on your overall wellbeing, which could create more stress during an already stressful season.

Instead of relying on alcohol, consider alternatives that promote healthier relaxation. Savor a cup of your favorite warm tea while practicing mindfulness or engaging in other enriching activities. This shift can help you manage your mental health more effectively, without the potential adverse effects of excessive alcohol intake.

Engage in Acts of Kindness

One of the most fulfilling ways to cope with holiday stress is by giving back to your community through acts of kindness and volunteering. There are many local organizations, shelters, or charities that could use extra help during the holiday season.

Whether you’re serving meals to those in need, participating in a toy drive, or offering your time at a local food bank, volunteering can shift your focus from personal stress to the joy of helping others. Acts of kindness provide a sense of purpose, promote gratitude, and foster a strong sense of connection with your community, all of which can be powerful stress-reduction tools during the holidays.

Seek Support

If you feel alone or depressed during the holidsay season, reach out for support. Family, friends, religious or community organizations can help, you don’t have to go through difficult times alone. If you find yourself feeling isolated or struggling with depression, reach out for support. Sharing your feelings and experiences with others can make a significant difference in your mental well-being.

If you’re already in therapy, make sure to keep your scheduled sessions. Alternatively, if you find yourself struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression during the holidays, consider starting therapy. The holidays can bring up difficult feelings and having a scheduled therapy session gives you the time to explore and work through them. Therapy can equip you with coping skills to navigate the challenges and maintain your emotional well-being.


As the holiday season approaches, prioritize your mental health and well-being. By considering these strategies, you can cope more effectively with holiday-related stress, anxiety, and depression. Don’t hesitate to seek support when needed. Remember, the holidays are a time for celebration, but they should also be a time for self-compassion and emotional well-being. For more resources and tips, visit our Member Resources Center.