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Keeping it Sane This Holiday Season

My wife left me.

My childhood was horrible.

I hate my family.

How can I deal with my eating issues when people keep shoving food in front of my face?

I just got laid off.

If I have to listen to one more person I should be thankful on Thanksgiving, I’ll scream!

Can you relate to any of these? If you can, you’re not alone.

We’ve all had bad years and some of us feel like we have had a bad lifetime already. We may be thinking, “When will all of this end?” or “I hate the holidays — it’s just people being fake with each other, pretending to care,” or “Stop with all the food already!”

It can be a frustrating time of the year for some of us. Some may rather have a tooth pulled than attend another family dinner. And yet you feel like you must.

I can’t make your family go away, or heal the childhood wounds you may suffer from. I can’t hire you back at your old job, heal a health problem, or get your wife back.

But what I can do is share with you a few thoughts on the holidays, and provide you with some additional resources to check out.

  • Keep it in perspective. Remember that the holidays and the time spent with family is a very tiny percentage of the year. Even if you hate your family and feel like you must attend the annual gathering, it’s for a few hours and then you’re free. Too often we catastrophize a situation, believing things will be far worse than they actually are.
  • Keep to the surface. Usually psychologists will tell you to dig a little deeper and don’t just chit-chat with others. The holidays are the exception, because they are generally not a good time to do a lot of family soul searching or discussion about past hurts. Most people are more stressed-out than during any other time of the year and will not be in the best place to have a reasonable, rationale discussion about the past.
  • Keep it as short and as simple as possible. Too often we focus on all the millions of things we *should* be doing for others, all the while ignoring our own needs or the things that will keep us less stressed. Try to simplify this holiday season. Keep the family time short (e.g., instead of spending the entire day with the family, why not just a few hours?).
  • Keep it real and look to the future. You are solely responsible for living the life you want to live. While family often brings up the past for many of us, it’s not something that we have to let rule us or our emotions. Be assertive and focus on your needs and look to your future, not your past.

TurkeyWant more tips for coping with the holiday season, stress, and your family? Check out our new Special Report: Coping with the Holidays today.

And Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

Keeping it Sane This Holiday Season


John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.


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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Keeping it Sane This Holiday Season. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/keeping-it-sane-this-holiday-season/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 19 Nov 2007)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.