“Happy Holidays!” – But, What If It Is Not?

December 7, 2023by admin

As the “Happy Holidays” season is upon us, Christmas lights are winking of good cheer and gladness, and holiday music tells us to “be of good cheer!” Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There can be family conflict, stressors and pressures for the perfect gift, dread for another holiday without a loved one, or fear that someone might bring up a topic that ultimately brings more pain than joy. With this in mind, here are a few things to do to support ourselves and others during the upcoming season.

How can we support ourselves at this time?


  1. Self-care! The importance can never be overstated. Engage in restorative activities, whether it be art, music, sudoku, or calling up that friend you have been meaning to chat with.
  2. Utilize coping skills to give yourself the time and space you need. Some examples may look like
    • Take several deep breaths until you find your anger/anxiety/etc. diminish
    • Go for a walk/jog/run
    • Hug/squeeze tightly a pillow
    • Drink a glass of a favorite beverage (though be careful with caffeinated or alcoholic beverages)
    • Listen to some holiday tunes (or your favorite tunes!)
    • Take a break
    • Speak with a trusted friend/family member
    • Tense all your muscles, then release your muscles (repeat as necessary)
  3. Share tools with your family (if it is safe to do so) to utilize to support each other during this time
  4. Give yourself space and grace. When holidays are hard, know that you are doing your best to get through. What you may need now may not be what someone else needs. Ensure you are not disregarding what you need during this time.

How can we support others throughout this time?

  1. Give yourself or a loved one space if you or your loved one are frustrated or need a minute. Some people need to work out their frustration in the moment, and for others, it causes more harm than good. Knowing each other’s conflict resolution needs and respecting them can help smooth things over in the holiday season.
  2. If you know a friend or family member that is going through a hard time, be intentional and check in with them. You never know when a video call, a text message, or a phone call can make someone’s day!
  3. Be patient with those who are going through a hard time.
    • Side note: this does not mean that being patient means accepting cruel treatment or abuse. If you are feeling like you are experiencing abuse, please don’t hesitate to reach out or talk to your therapist about how to proceed! We are here to help you!
  4. Engage in self-care (and when appropriate, perhaps invite others to do the same!)
  5. When Appropriate, (this would be worth talking about with your loved ones before the holidays are fully in swing about how they would like you to help in this area), invite your loved one or friend to participate in coping skills they need to use. If you spot a family member or loved one in need, gently remind them, or sit by them and use the coping skill that they may find helpful. Sometimes I will just sit and do deep breathing, or calmly do an activity close by them that they can engage in when they are ready. (If they need space and are safe to do so, please give them the space they need, that can be one of the most loving things you can do!)

These are just a few suggestions, and I know there are many creative ways to support ourselves and others. I know not all the holidays are “merry and bright” (nor all Christmases white, I’m afraid!) but I hope that with the right tools, and utilizing your supports will allow for a bright spot or two in your holiday season, or at least make it a better time than you anticipate it will be!

If you have further questions, or would like some additional support, please do not hesitate to reach out for support! We are excited to hear from you and would love to be able to support yourselves, your children, and/or your families! Please feel free to reach out to us at (630) 587-3777 ext. 102.