Surviving the Holidays with Distress Tolerance

“Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.” – Jonathan Miller

The upcoming holidays are a time of peace and reflection. There is also a lot of HOLIDAY STRESS. If you are able to relax by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and shop online, you are one of the lucky ones. Many of us dread this time of year for several reasons:

  1. The bills
  2. In-laws, or politely put —“having to spend time with difficult-to-tolerate family members”
  3. Loneliness

Here are some helpful ideas to get you safely through the rest of the year:


There are so many this time of year. If you have been avoiding holiday parties, plan to go to at least one or two. Why not socialize a little for a few hours to take your mind off all that is going on? Try exercising to get ahead of holiday weight gain. See a holiday movie with friends for some entertainment.


Holidays are a great time to give back. Volunteering, helping someone, giving and being thoughtful are great ways to feel good and spread the holiday cheer. Even if you aren’t giving gifts, you may give a card and exchange positive feelings with others inexpensively. Giving someone a simple candy cane can do the trick.


Avoid them. If we compare ourselves to others, we end up feeling lousy. When making comparisons, we have a tendency to compare ourselves to those who appear to be more fortunate. Instead, try to balance the comparisons. Try comparing yourself to those less fortunate to keep things in perspective.

Change Your Mood

Feel your mood going south? Try engaging in something that brings about opposite emotion. Feeling blue? How about playing some Christmas music and singing along to change your emotions? Read some Christmas cards, send some out, or put on a holiday comedy or a feel-good movie, such as It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story.


Focus your attention on the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings of the holiday season. Relish in the sensation of your favorite snuggly slippers or a warm blanket, the smell of your favorite holiday scented candle, or a scented lotion on your skin. Savor the tastes of the season—pumpkin pie, eggnog, and cranberry. Use your senses to really experience each bite—every texture and taste. Notice the details of the holiday decorations, the lights, the sound every note of holiday music. When you are fully present, you are more available to enjoy positive experiences.

And don’t forget to enjoy the holidays!