The 2020-2021 GLSEN National Student Council’s Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress

The holiday season can be stressful for many people, especially LGBTQ+ youth. Some may have to hide parts of their identity from family members and experience being deadnamed or misgendered. Some may find it difficult to hear political opinions that deny their humanity, and others may not have a family to spend time with during the holidays. No matter what you choose to do during the holidays, and regardless of whether you spend them with family, remember that you are valid and loved.

Members from GLSEN’s National Student Council have created this list of tips and ideas for things that have helped them get through the holiday seasons.


  • Reminder: No matter what family and/or friends say, you are loved and worthy of respect.
  • We are still in a pandemic, and in-person gatherings are still high risk for Covid-19 contraction. Make sure to wear a mask and stay 6ft apart. This is also a valid reason to stay clear from folks who are not supportive of you. Safety first!
  • Take the time to reflect on the origins of the holiday coming up. How has it impacted Native American and Indigenous people? Take time to learn about the land you live on through this app called Native Land. Then research and learn about the people who are listed in your area.
  • Come up with a list of distracting and relaxing activities such as deep breathing exercises or surrounding yourself with soothing smells, like essential oils or candles (Reminder: never leave a candle unattended!).
  • Find or make playlists that validate you and your identities.
  • Bake or cook holiday (or non-holiday) food. It doesn’t have to be homemade, store-bought is also fine.
  • Familiarize yourself with local resources through a resource hotline such as 211.

Support Systems

  • Identify someone you trust and who is supportive who will be with you during the holidays. Make time to check in with them throughout the day.
  • If you have a supportive person with you, ask them to help advocate for you in making sure people use your name and pronouns or making sure family members are not saying oppressive things.
  • Connect with GSA members to check in with each other and establish your needs
  • Make time to connect with friends!
  • If you need additional support or are experiencing a mental health crisis, consider using any virtual resources that are available to you. This could include spending time on social media if it brings you joy, hanging out in a group chat or Discord server, or calling or texting a support hotline


  • You do not need to spend time with anyone you do not want to over the holidays.
  • Set boundaries with folks who are not supportive of you and/or your identities. Here are some ways to do this:
    • Hey ____, I don’t feel comfortable having this conversation right now. Can we talk about this at another time?
    • I’d rather not discuss this with you. Let’s change the subject.
    • When you say (insert statement here), I feel (insert TRUTHFUL emotions/feelings here). I would appreciate it if (insert request here).
  • You have no obligation to emotionally engage with or educate anyone during the holidays.
  • Assess and prioritize your needs, especially with family. Your needs may vary depending on your level of outness and your relationship with your family members, so as much as you can, make sure to prioritize your safety.

Grounding Yourself

  • If you are stressed about finding gifts for family, you can write poetry, make a craft, draw a picture, etc. It’s the thought that counts!
  • Remember that it’s okay to have bad days
  • Everyone celebrates holidays in different ways, so it’s okay if you choose to observe (or not observe) these events in your own way.
  • Take time to relax and decompress at the end of your day.
  • If you’re feeling anxious, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths. Try to identify three to five background noises like animals, wind blowing in the trees, music, or background chatter.
  • If the weather permits, spend time outside.
  • Journal, write poetry, and/or write letters
  • Color! There are a lot of holiday-themed coloring pages you can download for free
  • If it would be helpful to you, take a break from social media.
  • Reflect on who and what you are grateful for. Write a friend a sweet note and tell them why you are grateful for them. If you’re grateful for yourself, write one to you! This is one way to practice self love and appreciation
  • Pick up a hobby, like playing the guitar or drawing.

We’re sending you a ton of validation over the break. For some sweet affirmations, check out @GLSEN on Instagram and follow our stories. Oh, and stay hydrated!

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