Tips from a Christian counselor on how to manage conflict, grief, and stress during the holidays, so you can enjoy family time this year.
What is stealing your joy this year during the holidays?
There are a few common things that threaten to steal our joy during the holidays. Do any of these sound familiar for you?
- Family conflict popping up
- Holiday stress
- Anxiety kicking up
- Depression feeling worse
The reality is, these struggles are very common during the holidays. Even for Christians. Even for happy families. And maybe for you.
As you head into Thanksgiving, Christmas, and beyond, let’s find some practical ways to handle these hard things so you can get right back to that quality family time during the holidays.
Today, I’ll share some practical, biblical tips for how to handle these common holiday struggles. Let’s dive in.
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Struggling well during the holidays
No one wants to deal with conflict or grief during the holidays. You want to enjoy this time! Family memories and special events are a big focus during the holidays, and you want all of that to be special.
Thankfully, it is possible to struggle well and still enjoy these special holiday moments.
It’s not easy, but it is possible.
Below, I’ll share some specific tips for common holiday-time struggles. But first, let me encourage you to get ready for the holidays! Find some fun ideas for the family. Grab a Christmas devotional so you’re ready for Advent and the Christmas season. Look into special events in your town.
Why do we struggle during the holidays?
The holidays are wonderful… and for many of us, they’re hard.
We struggle for many reasons. Some of it, you cannot control. You have to deal with time changes, less sunlight and colder days, extra sugar and disrupted schedules.
For every struggle during the holidays, make sure to start with these two key things: pray and be with people.
Prayer is powerful. It connects you with the God who loves you, guides you, and offers comfort and peace beyond our understanding. As you struggle during the holidays, pray! Ask God for what you need.
No matter what you are struggling with during this holiday season, avoid the temptation to isolate. You need people! Spend time with loved ones, even if you don’t feel up to it. We all need community.
Common struggles during the holidays
There are many things that you might struggle with during the holidays. Many things can make us tired and steal our energy and joy.
But let’s take a look at 5 of the most common struggles for Christian moms and our family life.
When you’re spending more time with family and probably seeing extended family, that can be fun and joyful. But there is also a lot more opportunity for conflict! So, try these steps:
- Prepare ahead of time for what topics to avoid
- Think through how to handle tough moments
- If conflict is rising, offer a new question, conversation, or activity to distract everyone
- Plan out some good conversation starters
- Take breaks and pause for a time out or some deep breathing
- When conflict does happen, help people apologize and offer forgiveness
You may also want to grab my FREE Conflict Resolution Checklist for a quick cheat sheet to have at your big holiday gathering.
Any time that we look back over the past year and see sadness, loss, or big change… there will be grief during the holidays. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, moved away from family, or had a big disappointment this year. What should you do?
- Allow yourself time and space to grieve, cry, and don’t rush through the emotions
- Talk about the people or things you’ve lost. Don’t avoid it.
- Pray and read Scripture to find comfort from your Heavenly Father
- Step back from some painful holiday traditions, but don’t avoid people entirely
- Try some new traditions, if you feel ready for it.
There are so many “extras” on our plates during the holidays, it is easy to feel stressed! But stress will distract and discourage you quickly. Since the goal is to ENJOY the holiday season and build great family memories, try these tips to reduce holiday stress.
- Schedule only your top holiday priorities into your to-do list
- Reduce commitments and be realistic with expectations
- Limit time on social media
- Take time to rest and enjoy special moments, without your phone or a to-do list
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The holidays can quickly spike our anxiety. So if you already struggle in this area, you’ll want to be mindful of what your mental health during the holidays is looking like.
- Focus on relationships instead of events, gifts, or “things” during the holidays
- Avoid people or situations that you know trigger your anxiety
- Read the Bible and focus on prayer and gratitude with the Lord.
- Continue your usual coping skills and self care
Many people struggle more with depression and sadness during the holidays. Partly, that is really about the time of year (it’s colder, darker, and we get less sunshine). But it can also be about the holidays themselves. Try these tips:
- Turn on more lights! Create warmth and light at home.
- Decorate with holiday things that make you smile.
- Cry out to God and spend time reading the Bible to remind yourself of his presence and goodness.
- Spend time with people. Even just being around people can help.
Enjoy the holiday season!
You might be struggling during the holidays, but you can struggle well and still find ways to focus on what really matters.
As they say, “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Keep your gaze on him. Read the Bible, go to church holiday events, share what you are thankful for, and pray.
If you need a Christmas devotional to get your holidays off to a great start, I’ve got a great one for you! You can find a men’s version, kids’ version, or a full 3-pack family bundle in my Etsy shop too.
Listen to Episode #154
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Disclaimers: I am a licensed therapist but my podcast, blog, and resources are not professional or personal advice. I am an affiliate for many of the resources that I link to, and may earn a small commission if you purchase through my link. Read my full disclaimer here.