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Happy Holidays: How to Support Yourself and Your Loved Ones Struggling this Holiday Season

Updated: Mar 30

Photograph by Annie Spratt

The winter holidays have garnered an almost ethereal reputation. There seems to be a sense of promise that anything can happen when snow dusts the ground, the new year approaches, and lights are strung across cities. Often our child-like excitement for what this time of year can bring blurs the reality that not everyone approaches the holiday season with such joy. As we finally begin to see the light at the end of a long and dark pandemic tunnel, remember to keep in mind the people who might be struggling this winter season.

Those who:

  • have recently lost a loved one.

  • are struggling with their physical health.

  • are struggling with their mental health.

  • are struggling financially.

  • don’t celebrate certain holidays.

  • can’t be with their family this holiday season.

The list goes on.

While Hallmark movies and depictions of the all-American family run rampant across our

television screens and Netflix recommendations, it is important to remember that there are not Christmas trees perked up in every household, or families gathered around every dining room table. Attentiveness is the best gift you can give this holiday season. Show your loved ones, and even yourself, that you are attuned to the struggles that come with this time of year.

A survey done by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 38% of people surveyed believed they experienced an increase in stress throughout the holiday season. If you find this is the case for yourself or a loved one, the Mayo Clinic has broken down important steps you can take to reduce holiday stressors. Some of which include:

  1. Maintain healthy habits. Keeping up with your workout routines and getting a good night’s rest will do great things for your mind and body!

  2. Practice saying no. You don’t need to attend every holiday party or see every friend on New Year's Eve. You won’t be missing out and you will be feeling good!

  3. Plan ahead. Check your calendar, reach out first, and don’t be afraid to let people know that it’s a busy season and you want to plan in advance.

  4. Seek professional help. The holidays are overwhelming in more ways than one; talking to a professional will give you a moment to step away from the chaos and learn more about yourself.

While these might seem to be give-ins, we often forget the pressures of the holidays and

how difficult it is to overcome them. Keeping up your routines, not spreading yourself too thin, preparing yourself for upcoming events, and taking the time to speak with someone are necessary steps in maintaining mental and physical health this season.

Holiday depression and anxiety is a statistical reality, but one that is often overshadowed by flashy, cheery, commercial promotions. We often feel pressure to push ourselves beyond our

limits in the name of holiday spirit, but without setting boundaries the only thing we will be bringing in to 2022 is more burnout.

'Tis the season of love and understanding! Show it to yourself and those around you.


Melissa is a 20-year-old undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, heading into her fourth year of study. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts with a major in English and History and a minor in Religion. She has a passion for reading and writing, and intends to pursue a career in publishing.

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