Maintaining well-being through the holiday period

Lauren McIntosh

Written by: Jac Tichbon


It is not unusual for the holidays to be a challenging time of year. During this time we might experience compounding stressors in our lives, such as end of year work commitments, financial stress, increase in social demands and managing difficult relationships with family members.

What is often ideally a time for us to slow down and relax is fraught with challenges that may impact our emotional well-being. Compounding this, the usual support that we rely on during the year, may not be available. For this reason, it is helpful to plan ahead for the holiday period.

Below we have outlined some strategies that can assist us through a turbulent holiday season, as listed below.

Practice self-care

Looking after yourself and meeting your own needs is an important part of maintaining therapeutic progress. This may look like keeping to your routine, exercise, eating healthily (a few festive treats is permissible). A good guide to understanding self care is to imagine how you would like a loved one to take care of themselves and apply these principles/activities to your own care.

Implementing boundaries

Sometimes managing family relationships can be stressful. Here you can set clear expectations for how long you choose to spend at a family event. Where possible, communicate these boundaries to family members, or you may decide it is in your best interest to not see certain family members.

Practice assertive communication

Assertive communication can be useful to communicate our boundaries, as well as our feelings, wants and needs. Sometimes these elements get lost in communication. A straightforward way to communicate all these important parts is through the use of I statements, “I feel ____, When _____, I would like ______, because ______.”

Practice emotional regulation strategies

During a time of prolonged heightened stress, it is important to implement strategies you may have learnt in therapy to regulate this stress response. This may look like breathing exercise or mindfulness based strategies. It’s okay to take a break from festivities if you feel overwhelmed or need extra time to manage your emotions.

Engage with HELPFUL supports

If we find ourselves isolated on holidays, we can engage with our social supports that we know are going to be supportive, such as close friends or family. Organising a session with your psychologist might also be of use.


Don’t forget, there are still options for external support if you are in a crisis situation, such as calling Lifeline (13 11 14).