Christmas can be a time of great joy for many people.  Unfortunately, for others it is a time when depression and anxiety gets worse.  Fifty-two percent of Canadian report feelings of anxiety, depression, and isolation during the holidays. Learning how to cope with the added stress is important.  Here are five ways to help manage that overwhelming feeling of stress of the holidays.


Everyone wants the picture perfect Christmas. Alternatively, maybe Christmas is not a big deal for you but you feel pressured to make it into a big deal. Either way you need to set realistic expectations.  Decide what is right for you and your family and ignore the judgments.  If you feel oppressed by your own traditions then maybe it is time to re-evaluate those traditions and make some changes.  Do not feel as though you have to do something because that is the way it always was done.  It is not a bad thing to start new traditions.  Ask yourself what you love and dislike about the holidays.  Focus on the things you love and avoid the things your dislike.

Do not over do it:

The key word for this time of year is “over”.  Over-eating, over-drinking, over-spending, it is a time of over-indulgence in almost every way.  This can have a huge impact on your mental health and stress level, not to mention your wallet and waistline. Remember you do not have to buy things to show people you care.  Spend time with people you love and make that your gift.  Stay on top of what you are spending, eating, and drinking.  Set out not just a budget for your finances but also a budget for eating sweets, and drinks.  Remember to keep your exercise and sleep routine going through the holidays.

Stop trying to be the perfect host:

When you are playing host to friends and families, it does not have to be perfect, just loving.  Delegate tasks or jobs to your guests and include them in making the evening special.  Maybe this is the year you pass the hosting torch on to someone else.  Consider setting some ground rules.  If you know there are some topics of conversation that should be avoided set some ground rules about avoiding these topics.  Make sure everyone is aware that this gathering is not the time or place to discuss these topics.

Do not hesitate to take a break:

Sometimes too much socializing can have stressful outcomes.  Do not hesitate to stay home instead of going to a party. If you need to take a break while at a gathering, seek out a quiet room and take some time for yourself.

Manage the loneliness:

More than one in ten Canadians often or always feel lonely and the holidays can be especially hard. If you have feelings of loneliness, you can do the following to help feel less isolated:

Do something for yourself:

Cook your favourite food, go to a movie, or do a holiday project.

Volunteer to help others:

Helping others can boost your own mental health and enables you to connect to people.

Reach out to others who may be alone:

Connect with groups (on-line or in-person) who are also looking for companionship.

Write letters, holidays cards, and include invitations to connect via phone or video.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like to get help or talk to someone, there are people who can help.

  • If you just want to talk to someone, there are “warm lines” for you to do just that.
  • If you’re a young person, try the youth peer-to-peer online community.
  • Please contact your local CMHA or visit the Government of Canada’s Wellness Together portal.
  • If you are thinking of suicide, please call Talk Suicide at 1-833-456-4566 toll free in Canada (1-866-277-3553 in Quebec) or dial 911.