Handling Holiday Stress When You Don't Feel Like Celebrating

The holidays aren’t always joyous and happy, and the expectation that they should be full of comfort and joy can make you feel more anxious and stressed out. When you’ve lost someone, you’re far from home, your family isn’t supportive, or your memories of past celebrations don’t look anything like the “perfect holiday” portrayed in the media, this time of year can be especially difficult.

 Connect with others to reduce holiday stress

There was a time in my late teens - early 20’s that my parents and I didn’t see eye-to-eye (and that’s putting it mildly). I was living at home, dating a guy they hated, and I was pushing boundaries and breaking lots of rules. My relationship with my parents was very strained and they told me I had to move out. I was upset and hurt and I’m sure my parents were too. I decided that I needed to spend time away from my family so I didn’t go home for the holidays for a few years. It was a painful time and really hard. I remember my sister calling me, pleading with me to come home, although she said she understood why I felt I couldn’t. Feeling alone and disconnected I reached out and found support through friends and my sister.

I share this because I understand what it’s like to be alone, to not feel like celebrating, to struggle during the holidays. If you’re having a hard time and wonder how you’ll survive between now and the New Year, connecting with others can help. Connect with friends, partners, counselors, family (if they’re not the ones causing you stress), or your family pet. Instead of focusing on what the perfect holiday should be, making the holidays about connecting and getting support can make a big difference.


If you’d like some other ideas on supporting yourself through the season you can check out the article I wrote for the Severna Park Voice. In it I share some more tips to help you survive when the holidays don’t feel like a celebration.


Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is a therapist and the owner of Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md. She helps busy, overwhelmed men and women manage their anxiety and stress so they can live their lives with more ease, contentment and purpose.

Photo courtesy of Toa Heftiba for Unsplash.com.