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Holiday Stress Triggers and Hacks on How to Cope

Learn about common stressors among young adults during the holiday season and how to cope.


It’s that time of year when the world is full of love with a side of chaos. Young adults are dealing with stressful situations such as expectations or differences within a family or group environment.

Although an exciting and joyous time, full of gifts and connections, how does one deal with the abundance of stress around this time of year? Why could this year in particular heighten anxieties and stress levels? How does one cope with overwhelming stress?

What is the most stressful for young adults/students during the Holidays?

According to Columbia College Chicago’s Counseling Services Department, an indication of common stressors is related to navigating family relationships. Going home for the holidays is overwhelming, particularly when faced with differences among family members. improper communication and clear boundaries may cause conflict among a more self-aware young generation. Columbia’s Counseling Services Department claims that “family being reaffirming of student’s gender and/or sexuality” are large reasons that will induce stress.

The holidays can also be distressing because of a certain concentration on food. “It can be even more challenging when families are entrenched in diet culture and unhealthy habits around food,” Columbia Counseling states. They provide an example of restricting or skipping meals. This is commonly related to religious reasons such as fasting or simply unhealthy standards within a family.

Are certain stressors more extreme than others?

Stress is fluent and versatile. Mental challenges are generally particular to each person. When one considers variables such as trauma or anxiety, stress will be heightened depending on the situation.

Stressors are unique to every individual but can be described as people, places, activities, or things that someone finds to be challenging or threatening. Just like one person may find a new experience exciting, another person may find a new experience stressful”.

Columbia College Chicago Couseling Services

How has the pandemic increased stressors in the year 2022?

To common knowledge, the pandemic has made a huge impact on youth and society itself. As the world is slowly being reintroduced to social gatherings, there is some increased stressors present. Columbia Counseling Services accounts that “Being isolated and not talking to other people outside their household meant that a lot of people were out of practice managing normal day-to-day conflicts and stressors”. However, there is optimism in the idea that it takes readjustment and one that will take some practice to comfortably reconnect again.

Celia Ong/Shutterstock

How to cope with stress during the holidays

Talking with the ones you trust and feel open to sharing feelings with is a great way to relieve stress. Taking advantage of resources such as counseling services, exercise, and a self-care routine particular to what works for you is beneficial. It is a healthy practice to know one’s limits, such as stepping away from overwhelming situations in the moments needed. Allowing yourself grace and being grateful for the present moment. Identifying the beauty of what is in front of you is a calming and restorative mindfulness practice.

The bright side of stress

Stress is normal and healthy in many ways. It is a motivator and a natural part of life. The holidays are a time to embrace love and boundaries. Learning about yourself and what you need in a time of stress provides perspective. Increasing self-awareness is unique and a valued quality of being human.

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