Navigating Holiday Stress

The holiday season is often a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, for individuals struggling with gambling harm, this time of year can be particularly challenging. The combination of increased stress, financial pressures, and the availability of gambling opportunities can make the holidays a risky period for those trying to control their gambling habits. In this blog, we’ll explore the connection between gambling harm and stress during the holiday season and provide tips on how to manage both effectively.  

Understanding Problem Gambling 

Problem gambling is a condition characterized by the inability to control gambling behavior, despite adverse consequences. It can lead to significant financial, emotional, and psychological problems for individuals and their families.  

Stress and the Holidays 

Stress is a common feature in the holiday season. People often experience stress due to various factors, such as gift shopping, family gatherings, travel, and financial obligations. For those struggling with gambling harm, these stressors can trigger the urge to gamble as a way to cope with, or escape from, stress. 

Connection between Gambling and Stress 

Individuals struggling with gambling harm often turn to gambling as a means of dealing with stress and anxiety. The initial rush and excitement that gambling provides can be a temporary distraction from the worries and pressures associated with the holidays. However, this behavior can lead to a vicious cycle, exacerbating the stress and causing future financial and emotional strain. 

Warning Signs and Tips 

There are signs to look for in an individual’s gambling behavior that can be signs of problems associated with gambling. 

  • Gambling with increased amounts of money to get the desired level of excitement. 
  • Becoming restless and irritable when you try and cut back on your gambling. 
  • Thinking about gambling all the time. 
  • Planning for the next time to gambling or thinking about ways to get money to gamble. 
  • Gambling when feeling stressed and anxious. 

Tips for managing gambling harm and stress during the holiday season include: 

  • Find alternatives. Identify healthier ways to cope with stress, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies that bring you joy.  
  • Create new traditions. Develop new holiday traditions that do not involve gambling, such as volunteering, crafting, or enjoying nature.  
  • Seek support. Reach out to friends, family or support groups to share your concerns and seek emotional support. 
  • Self-exclusion. Consider self-exclusion from casinos or online gambling sites to limit your access during the holiday season. 

Seek Professional Help 

If you find that your gambling, or a loved one’s gambling, is spiraling out of control and causing extreme stress, it’s essential to seek help from a treatment professional who specializes in gambling disorder. In New York State, anyone can contact our regional Problem Gambling Resource Centers at to learn about support resources and, if desired, direct connection to the resources of choice. 

The holiday season can be a challenging time for individuals dealing with problem gambling and stress. By recognizing the connection between these two issues and taking proactive steps to manage them, you can enjoy a more peaceful and fulfilling holiday season. Seek support from loved ones and professionals to ensure that the holidays are a time of happiness and personal growth, rather than a source of stress and temptation.