‘Tis the Season for Tension: Surprising Holiday Stressors

While the holiday season is one of the most magical times of the year, it’s also known as one of the most stressful. Between the anxiety that stems from additional financial obligations to the strain that comes from trying to be the perfect host, it seems like stress is far too common in winter celebrations. However, other causes could be contributing to your holiday blues. Learn about some little-known stressors so you can more readily identify and make peace with them.


Most people participate in holiday traditions throughout their lives. Children grow up learning them, and they then share these customs with their own children. Traditions can be a great source of comfort and joy, but they can also cause stress. When everything doesn’t perfectly fall into place with what you’re accustomed to, such as a family member being unable to participate, the practice might not live up to your expectations and can leave you feeling hurt or empty.

The Absence of a Loved One

Because the holidays are so steeped in traditions and memories, it can be painfully obvious when you’re missing someone dear to you. Whether they were simply unable to travel to you or they are no longer with us, the holidays can be a lonely time when you’re thinking about people you wish were with you.

Feelings of Inadequacy

We live in a world where everything is constantly compared to unrealistic ideals. Whether you’re comparing your holidays to those of friends who post on social media or depictions of celebrations from TV or movies, it can be easy to feel like your festivities fall short. You should keep in mind that social media often shows the highlight reel and not the behind-the-scenes footage.

What You Can Do About It

First, when you begin to feel stressed, sit down and consider the cause. If it’s something you have control over, you can make changes. However, not all stressors have an easy solution, including the three listed above. For the more enduring types of stress, consider some of the following exercises to quiet the anxiety.

  • Practice good health. Exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get the proper amount of sleep. Taking care of your health will help you feel better in the long run.

  • Speak with a loved one. Find someone you trust, and tell them about what is weighing you down. They can help you feel less alone and can provide comfort during a hard time.

  • Do something you enjoy. Schedule a fun activity for a time when you can devote all your attention to it. It will give you something to look forward to and help take your mind off things, leaving you with a sense of peace.

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