Tips to Help with Holiday Celebrations

December is in full swing, and you are likely finding your calendars filling up with festive celebrations. However, it is important to remember that this season can bring up many emotions, and not all of those are necessarily positive. The end-of-year celebrations can leave you happy, sad, or even ambivalent about your world.  


Stress at this time of year can be caused by the following: 

  • Overindulging and overspending
  • Too much time with family or not enough time
  • Multiple caregiving roles, trying to do too much for too many
  • Personal or family illness
  • Work demands
  • Expectations of what you should do or should have done
  • Seasonal affective disorder (the weather) or depression

“52% of Canadians report feelings of anxiety, depression and isolation during the holiday season.  

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s important to find ways to cope with the  

added stress that can come with this time of year.” -Canadian Mental Health Association 


Tips to help 


Reflect on what is important to you during the holidays. This may change over time, but thinking about what you want for this holiday season will help you choose more intentionally about whom you would like to spend time with and how you would like to spend the time. It’s hard to have a meaningful holiday if you don’t determine what will give it meaning ahead of time. 

Plan as early as possible about what you will do during the holidays. Try to plan at least one activity that is important to you for each holiday that you celebrate. Feel free to initiate actions with family and friends. Consider volunteer activities. Planning well in advance can give you something to look forward to and help you feel greater control. 

Communicate clearly how others can support you.  Accept offers to help shop, decorate, or even cook. Some people may not know how best to help. Needs and desires may have changed from the previous year. Most people are happy to help if they clearly understand what is needed and have enough time to provide support. 

Realize the holiday season is a marathon, not a sprint. In other words, pace yourself. While different gatherings can be exciting, you don’t want to compromise your physical or mental health by doing too much. Practice saying “no” without guilt.  


Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try your best to make good food choices and relax to restore energy.  Your endurance will be better if you stick to your daily routine as much as possible, including exercise. 

Manage your spending. It’s easy to feel the pressure of consumerism during the holidays. Decrease financial stress by making and sticking to a budget. Thoughtfulness need not come with a hefty price tag.  

Monitor alcohol and medications – individually and together. It is easy to overindulge in alcohol during the holidays. Moderation is vital so your balance and emotional well-being are not negatively impacted. If you do not usually drink alcohol, consider beforehand how alcohol and your medications may interact, especially if you’re taking a new medication or an increased dose.  


Manage your expectations for family gatherings. When multiple generations and multiple families celebrate together, it can be challenging to feel heard and understood. Be clear about what you need the most and be flexible about the rest. 

Think about stories or observations from the past as a family you’d like to share. You may know how a specific family tradition began or have a funny account about the holidays when you were a child. 

Take some time to reflect on what went well this holiday season and the improvements you would like to make next year. Also, try to take some time to acknowledge what you are grateful for, and what you are looking forward to most as the 2024 approaches. 

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