Surviving Painful Holiday Emotions

Families should love each other. Families should get along. Holidays should be fun. But what about when those “shoulds” aren’t true for you? Surviving painful holiday emotions requires healthy coping skills.

Holidays and families can easily trigger us into states of anxiety, shame, and misery. For individuals with substance use disorders, holiday events can be triggering and increase the potential for relapse. The truth is, we do not all have happy families, happy memories, or happy holidays. If your child or parent is mean to you, if you’ve experienced abuse or neglect during the holidays, or if you’ve ever felt lonely even when you were surrounded by loved ones, know that you are not alone.┬áThese experiences are common and can make the holiday season challenging.

We can avoid or medicate our painful feelings to get through, or we can deal with these challenging emotions in healthier ways that serve our well-being and mental health.

Tips for Surviving Painful Holiday Emotions:

  • Identify what you’re experiencing and validate your emotions.
  • Give yourself compassion! Pause to breathe and calm yourself.
  • Remember that emotions are temporary.┬áListen without judgment.
  • Set boundaries kindly, but firmly.
  • Think through how to move forward and try new approaches.


If your anxiety is getting in the way of your day-to-day functioning, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. Anxiety disorders can be treated with talk therapy and/or medication. Contact us to learn more about our treatments and programs.

Find more tips for coping with anxiety on our website and social media!