Do you feel stressed when trying to connect to family and friends during the holidays? You’re not alone. During the holiday season, it’s normal to feel a variety of emotions — both excitement and stress. If the latter gets too much, however, here are some ideas for lowering stress while visiting family (or having family visit) during the holidays.

  1. Be realistic about expectations. Consider your priorities for the holiday season and plan accordingly. Don’t take on too much.
  2. Know what might cause particular frustrations. Are there topics that should be avoided? Other stressful triggers? Consider how you might change the conversation to circumvent some of these issues.
  3. Know how you might cope with frustration. Do you need to walk away sometimes? Talk to another family member? Stretch and practice deep breathing? Phone a friend? Have a plan to deal with stress before it happens.
  4. Set boundaries and stick to them. Discuss them with your loved ones and make a plan to honor the boundaries set.
  5. Tackle it as a team. Make plans with your loved ones for your holiday visits and stick to them. It can also be uniquely stressful to be apart from family due to deployment. Many find it difficult to be away from family and traditions. You can’t always make everyone happy, but you can come up with creative ways to have fun with your family. Celebrate and enjoy your time together!

For more tips, check out these articles.

Your local installation Family Advocacy Program and Community Counseling Program have additional resources such as counseling or stress management classes that can help you deal with holiday stress. Another resource is DSTRESS. The DSTRESS Line provides anonymous services for Marines and their families. You can reach DSTRESS at 1-877-476-7734 or