Carving turkey with family argument in background
1 / 10

Family Gatherings

A serving of drama with your holiday turkey? If your family fights, or going home triggers bad memories, you can cope.

  • Don't expect the worst. Focus on catching up with a cousin or enjoying your favorite dish.
  • Make a plan. Have a trusted relative ready to spring you from bad conversations.
  • Set a time limit. Stop by for just 15 minutes. Or if you can't bear to go, just RSVP "no."
Swipe to advance
Dad waiting for son with department store santa
2 / 10

Over-Commercialization

When plastic reindeer and pressure to outdo last year's gifts are just plain depressing, here are some ways to put the focus back on whatever's meaningful to you:

Spend quality time with loved ones. Draw from your beliefs. Stick to simple traditions. Make a donation to charity instead of giving gifts.

Swipe to advance
Three different holiday dinner engagements
3 / 10

Over-Committing

How to cope: Behold the power of "No." Sounds silly, but practice saying it -- out loud, in front of a mirror. Feel free to drop "no" to any holiday invitation. You don't have to give a reason. Making a commitment to yourself to stay well-rested is healthy.

If there's an obligation you feel you must honor but you're still feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Be specific. For example, "Can you bring the salad?"

Swipe to advance
Stacks of wrapped holiday gifts
4 / 10

Financial Worries

You don't have to spend a lot -- or even anything -- to show you care.

Try: Buying books, personalizing by topic. Writing a thoughtful note or making gifts. Or scheduling a coffee or dinner with friends to enjoy one another's company.

When shopping, create a budget early and stick to it. Scope out gifts online to avoid impulse buys in the mall frenzy.

Swipe to advance
Family framed by holiday wreath circa 1960s
5 / 10

Unrealistic Expectations

Life is hectic year-round. Add the pressure to produce a perfect holiday while also being merry and it's easy to be left feeling bogged down, not festive.

Coping tip: Ditch perfectionism. No time to bake cookies for your son's classmates? Store-bought cookies are just fine. Forgot the wreath? It's OK. Your family will forgive you.

Swipe to advance
Woman napping holding holiday shopping bags
6 / 10

Fatigue

Staying up late wrapping presents, devoting days to make tins of chocolate treats for neighbors, or hustling through the mall can be exhausting and take its toll.

Coping tip: Take a breather. Remember, you can't enjoy the holidays if you're wading through them in a zombie-like fog. Make time to rest and revitalize. Plan nights in with no commitments and head to bed early.

Swipe to advance
Women with luggage at airport, rear view
7 / 10

Stress

Relatives. Shopping. Travel. Party planning. Finding childcare. Holidays can add to stress or sadness you feel during the regular year.

To survive: Plan daily "me time." Just set aside 15 minutes to go walking or do something else you enjoy.

If you see a therapist, make arrangements to go more often if you feel you'll need it. Or ask if you can do phone check-ins in case of crisis.

Swipe to advance
Slice of pecan pie
8 / 10

Breaking Healthy Habits

So you had an extra cup of eggnog. It's OK. Don't let a one-time holiday overindulgence derail the healthy habits you work on all year -- like eating well, getting enough rest, and taking medications regularly.

Tips to get on track: Start fresh tomorrow. Try fresh veggies or fruit as a pre-party snack to curb buffet regrets. Avoid alcohol or know your limit. Keep a set exercise and eating routine.

Swipe to advance
Man eating microwave turkey tv dinner
9 / 10

Being Away from Family and Friends

If you can't make it home this holiday or your friends have other plans, try:

  • Branching out. Celebrate with folks who will be in town and start a new tradition.
  • Looking ahead. Plan a visit in the New Year. Focusing on a future visit can take your mind off the present.
  • Volunteering. It places you around people and the emphasis on giving. Studies show helping others can help improve your mood and well-being.
Swipe to advance
Winter Blues Beckon As Daylight Hours Foreshorten
10 / 10

Shorter Days, Lack of Sunlight

The darkness of winter really does affect some people's moods. Sadness, anxiousness, loss of interest in activities, or sleeping more every winter can be a sign of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). An estimated 10% - 20% of people in the U.S. experience a mild form of winter onset SAD, and it seems to be more common in women.

Coping tip: If you have symptoms, see your doctor. Treatment is available.

Swipe to advance

Up Next

Next Slideshow Title

Sources | Medically Reviewed on 05/07/2016 Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 07, 2016

IMAGES PROVIDED BY:

(1)      Iconica and Westend61

(2)      Xavier Bonghi/Riser

(3)      Blend Images and Radius Images

(4)      Betsie Van der Meer/Stone

(5)      Retrofile/Getty Images

(6)      BananaStock

(7)      Hitoshi Nishimura /Taxi Japan

(8)      Paul Poplis/FoodPix

(9)      BananaStock

(10)   Getty Images Europe

REFERENCES:
WebMD Feature: "25 Ways to Find Joy and Balance During the Holidays."
WebMD Feature: "Home for the Holidays."
Rhode Island Department of Health: "Tips on Raising Your Pre-Teens and Teens: Managing Holiday Stress and Blues."
Science Today at the University of California: "Dealing with those Holiday Blues."
Mental Health America (formerly NMHA): "Factsheet: Holiday Depression and Stress"
Mayo Clinic: "Stress, Depression and the Holidays: 12 Tips for Coping."
WebMD Video: "'Tis the Season for Stress."
Mental Health America: "Factsheet: Seasonal Affective Disorder."
WebMD Video: "Light Therapy and Beyond."
American Academy of Family Physicians. FamilyDoctor.org: "Seasonal Affective Disorder."
WebMD Topic Overview: "What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?"
Thoits, PA. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, June 2001; vol 42(2): pp 115-131.
WebMD Feature: "Foods That Boost Mood and Fight Holiday Weight Gain."
University of Maryland Medical Center: "University of Maryland
Psychiatrists Offer Tips on Dealing with Holiday Stress and Depression."

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on May 07, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.