5 Signs that Your Loved One is Struggling During the Holidays

Article written by Alexander Isaakovich

The holiday season, a time ordinarily filled with joy, love, and togetherness, can also be a period of stress, anxiety, and emotional turmoil for many. It's especially challenging for those who may be dealing with mental health issues or going through personal struggles.

Woman celebrating christmas in july
Source: Image by freepik from Freepik

As family members or close friends, it's crucial to recognize the signs of distress in our loved ones to offer them the support they need. Here are five signs that your loved one might be struggling during the holidays. Immerse yourself in their world. Look out for changes in their behavior, like withdrawal from social activities or a drastic change in appetite.

Misplaced anger or irritability might be a cry for help. Pay attention to excessive guilt or feelings of worthlessness, as these could signal a deeper issue.

Lastly, observe any unusual sleep patterns or bouts of insomnia. By being observant and empathetic, you can help your loved ones navigate their holiday struggles, turning this season into a time of healing and hope.

1. Is your loved one withdrawn?

The first sign to look for is withdrawal. If you notice that your loved one is spending more time alone, avoiding social situations, or not participating in activities they once enjoyed, it could be a sign that they're struggling. This withdrawal may be a coping mechanism to deal with feelings of sadness, anxiety, or overwhelm.

It is important to approach them gently, expressing your concern and willingness to listen without pushing them to engage or 'snap out of it.' Remember, the aim is to let them know they're not alone and that help is available, if and when they're ready to accept it. The revealing clue is often a retreat into solitude. Spotting a loved one gradually becoming a recluse, shunning social gatherings, and forgoing hobbies they once cherished might indicate a silent battle they're fighting.

This isolation could be their refuge, a way to handle the overwhelming waves of despair, anxiety, or stress. It's crucial to tread lightly, articulating your worry and readiness to lend an ear, without exerting pressure on them to interact or 'bounce back.' Bear in mind, the objective is to assure them they're not in this alone - assistance is within reach, ready to be extended whenever they feel prepared to embrace it.

2. Is your loved one irritable?

Another sign that your loved one may be struggling is increased irritability. They may seem unusually impatient, short-tempered, or easily annoyed. This can be a result of internal emotional turmoil and stress that they're finding difficult to manage.

It's important not to take this personally or react defensively. Instead, try to maintain a calm and understanding demeanor, reminding them that it's okay to discuss their feelings and that you're there to help in any way you can.

Moreover, increased irritability can often be a silent cry for help. It's a manifestation of the emotional distress they're battling within, a tough battle that they may not know how to articulate.

It's not about you, but about the turmoil they're going through. So, instead of reacting defensively, take a step back, be patient and compassionate.

Encourage open dialogue about their feelings, reassuring them that it's okay to feel this way and that they're not alone. Your support could be the lifeline they're desperately reaching for.

3. Is your loved one displaying erratic or impulsive behavior?

Erratic or impulsive behavior is another red flag that your loved one might be going through a tough time. This could manifest as sudden changes in their routine, unpredictable mood swings, reckless actions, or even substance misuse. It's crucial to approach this situation with care, as such behaviors can sometimes put the individual or others at risk. Seek professional help if necessary, and always ensure you're offering non-judgmental support and understanding.

Erratic or impulsive behavior can be a distress signal that your loved one is grappling with emotional turmoil. This might emerge as sudden shifts in their daily habits, unpredictable mood oscillations, audacious actions, or even a tendency towards substance misuse. Navigating this situation demands sensitivity, as such conduct can occasionally place the individual or others in peril.

It's not a sign of weakness to seek professional guidance if the situation warrants it. Remember, your role is to provide a pillar of non-judgmental support, fostering an environment of empathy and understanding. In this way, you can help guide your loved one towards the path of healing and recovery.

4. Is your loved one frequently oversleeping or sleeping more than normal?

Changes in sleeping patterns, such as oversleeping or sleeping more than usual, can be another sign that your loved one is struggling. This could be a physical manifestation of depression, stress, or anxiety.

It's crucial not to dismiss these changes as merely 'being lazy' or 'just tired.' Instead, recognize them for what they are - a possible cry for help. Encourage them to seek professional help if this continues, as persistent sleep disturbances can have profound impacts on physical and mental health.

Altering sleep patterns could be a silent alarm bell, a testament to deeper internal battles they may be waging with depression, stress, or anxiety. It's vital to resist the urge to label such changes as mere laziness or fatigue.

Rather, empathetically interpret them as potential pleas for assistance. Encourage them to reach out to a mental health professional if this pattern persists.

Persistent sleep disturbances are not just a nuisance; they are a serious threat to overall wellness, capable of wreaking havoc on both physical health and emotional stability. Act promptly and provide them with the support they need to reclaim their restful nights and, consequently, their peace of mind.

5. Is your loved one struggling with insomnia or an inability to fall asleep?

Conversely, insomnia or difficulty falling asleep can also be a sign that your loved one is struggling. Sleep problems often coexist with issues like anxiety, depression, and stress. If your loved one is tossing and turning all night or complaining about not getting enough sleep, it's important to take these concerns seriously.

Encourage them to practice good sleep hygiene, perhaps incorporating relaxing bedtime routines or discussing their concerns with a healthcare professional. However, don't stop there.

Supporting your loved one through this phase is essential. Open a dialogue, let them know you're there to lend an ear without judgment. Gently remind them that it's okay to ask for help, and there's no shame in seeking professional guidance.

Encourage them to explore therapeutic strategies like mindfulness, yoga, or meditation that could help alleviate their sleep issues. Remember, your empathy and understanding can make a world of difference to them.


Recognizing these signs in your loved one is the first step towards helping them navigate their struggles. Remember, your role is not to have all the solutions or to fix their problems but to provide them with unconditional support, understanding, and encouragement to seek professional help when needed.

The holiday season can be tough for many, but with awareness, compassion, and action, we can make it a bit easier for our loved ones who may be struggling. Don't forget to also instill hope in them, remind them of their resilience, and the strength they hold within them. Make them feel seen, heard, and valued.

Show them that they're not alone in their battles. This holiday season, let's not just aim to make merry but also to uplift spirits, lessen burdens, and spread a wave of empathy.

Our collective efforts can significantly alter their journey, turning a challenging time into an opportunity for growth and healing. Together, we can create a supportive environment that fosters mental well-being.

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