Healthy Living Emotional Distress During the Holidays featured image Dec 17 Maple

Dealing with Emotional Distress During the Holidays

Healthy Living


Although a holiday can be a time of joy, many people experience emotional distress during the holiday season. Reasons for this can include:

  • the responsibilities of hosting parties and family gatherings;
  • the challenges of traveling;
  • the pressure to buy gifts;
  • financial strain due to atypical expenditures;
  • interactions with family members with whom you have chronic conflict;
  • the absence of loved ones who have passed away, divorced, relocated, or are serving in the military;
  • the shorter daylight time;
  • cold and gloomy weather; and
  • the year’s end, which prompts people to take stock of their accomplishments or lack thereof.

What can you do to help yourself cope during the holiday season? 

  • Avoid relying on alcohol, using other recreational drugs, or misusing prescription medicine, as these consumptive behaviors can worsen your mood, your thoughts, or your behavior
  • Minimize your contact with relatives with whom you expect to have unpleasant interactions
  • Simplify your celebrations
  • Focus on the spiritual meaning of each holiday
  • Plan and perform acts of kindness to friends, neighbors, or strangers (which could include volunteering within a social service agency)
  • Serve your church congregation in a new way
  • Connect with the people in your life who have been sources of support for you in the present or past
  • Seek the services of a mental health professional.

My company, Crosswalk Psychological Services, provides faith-based psychotherapy services online to clients throughout Alabama. To learn more, call 334-744-3694, visit, or email us at

-Dr. Thomas Maple is an Alabama-licensed psychologist and the founder of Crosswalk Psychological Services, LLC. His clinical background includes work in private practice and in university clinics. Born and raised in the Birmingham area, he resides in Auburn with his wife and his two daughters.

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