Tips for a Happy, Healthy, Stress-Less Holiday

From dealing with their families or families of choice, to budgeting their time, energy and finances, the holidays can be a particularly stressful time of year for LGBT elders.

Tips for managing this stress and avoiding its negative health effects will be presented at an upcoming workshop hosted by the LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care. The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, December 14th from noon to 1:30 pm in the community rooms at Chase Brexton’s Mount Vernon Center (1111 North Charles Street, Baltimore).

Want to attend or receive more info on this upcoming Lunch and Learn workshop? RSVP to or call 410-837-2050 x1049.

Here’s a preview of just a few of the tips to be offered at the workshop.

Why are the holidays particularly stressful for LGBT elders?

The holidays can be stressful for all of us. As an LGBT elder, that holiday stress is often made worse by an individual’s lack of social and emotional connection. Some elders may have few family or friends to share the holidays with, either through rejection or physical loss.

How can this stress translate to negative health effects?

The stress caused by not having those sources of support can have a major impact on a person’s health and well-being. Isolation can decrease feelings of vitality, diminish energy, and leave someone feeling tired. Other health impacts include chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, frequent bouts of sickness such as colds or flu, and longer recovery times with an increased likelihood of depression.

What other impacts can the holiday season have on an elder’s lifestyle?

Many elders live on a limited or fixed income. The holidays bring an emphasis on giving, but we need to reassure our elders that the gift of their time and their desire to spend it with us is priceless. Also, for many individuals, a celebratory dinner or meal is out of the question because they lack the resources to obtain anything beyond their basic nutritional requirements.

The pressures of the holidays, both internal and external, can increase an emotionally challenging state. Emotional stress can be subtle, and the brain can slowly lose its skills at regulating hormone levels. As a result, elders who feel worried or anxious tend to produce larger amounts of stress hormones. The flow of stress hormones can be especially hard on older adults.

How can LGBT elders manage stress during the holidays?

Spend your holidays with families of choice, and acknowledge how you’re feeling – it’s okay to express your feelings. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community or other social events. Also, be realistic – the holidays don’t have to be perfect. Make new traditions or revisit old ones. To stick to a budget and avoid over-spending on gifts, consider donating to a charity in someone’s name, giving a handmade gift, or starting a gift exchange.

Most importantly, plan ahead and learn to say no. Saying yes to holiday plans when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Those that care will understand if you can’t participate in everything.

What can we do to support our LGBT elders?

Reach out, connect, and check in. Invite an elder to share a holiday with you, or you with them. The stories you can hear, the lessons you can learn, and the memories you can share go far beyond a simple meal together, and could impact you and them for a lifetime.

For or more info about LGBT elder care, please contact, call 410-837-2050 x1049, or visit

The LGBT Health Resource Center of Chase Brexton Health Care is to provide LGBTQ individuals and their families with welcoming access to expert health information and resources that will enhance wellness and quality of life. For more info, visit