How Do I Navigate Holiday Stress?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons, and it’s a real thing. But sometimes, the holidays just bring up stuff within us that can cause this state. The holidays can bring about reflection, problematic social situations, and they bring to light questionable family dynamics. So, how do you navigate the holiday season? Well, everyone’s situation is different, but here are a few situations I’ve known to be pressing for some. Although I haven’t written solutions for them, I’ve written a few decision-making tips. 


I don’t feel welcome, or I don’t feel secure at a holiday get-together. Should I go or what should I do?

Security is a very important part of feeling loved. But, the holidays can be filled with tremendous pressure to be merry and “to enjoy the moment.” For someone who feels anxious in social settings or for any reason does not feel safe at a get-together, this behavior is not always easily attainable. If you’re trying to decide, perhaps ask your self 3 questions:

  1. How is this even going to impact my mental state? Will I be nervous, exhausted, or sad for an extended period of time afterward?

  1. Will there be at least one person there who I feel safe around, or is there someone I can bring with me who is an ally? 

  1. Is there a way I can show up as my authentic self without being chastised?

No one can answer these questions for you, but your thoughts on these questions are a good way to decide for yourself. 

I wasn’t invited or told not to come. 

First of all, everything you’re feeling right now is valid. Secondly, if you need support while this get-together is happening, please do not feel like you have to be a pillar of strength. Reach out for support, which I know, can be a scary and hard thing in light of recent events. Is there a friend you can hash out your feelings with, vent, or spend time with on that day?

Can you join friends or come together with others? Sometimes, it seems better to be alone when things like this happen, but in reality, it’s very helpful to reach out to the ones you love. And don’t be afraid to reach out for physical help if you need it. Furthermore, provided this works for you, you can also keep busy or get enthralled in a series. Is there something you want to do or get done on that day? Pushing back and being avoidant is understandable for a time, but it’s important to accept that we do have to embrace our stories at some point. 

I have so many gifts to buy, but I don’t know if I can. Have I been doing enough?

Yes, you are enough. The Holidays are about pausing to spend time with people you love.  If gift-giving is your love language, and it means a lot to you, that is valid. You’re not materialistic for wanting to give someone something special and vice versa. There are many different, creative, and thoughtful ways to gift-give though. When you truly share a bond with someone, they will appreciate every single ounce of effort and special attention to detail you bestow upon a gift. You can make a gift or get a gift that portrays how well you know your loved one, the moments you’ve shared, and the things you love about them. 

Customized gifts, hand-crafted gifts, and tailored experiences are all lux gifts regardless of their price tag.