What Your Zodiac Sign Says About How You Experience Holiday Stress—And How You Can Deal With It

Photo: Getty Images/Fiordaliso
The winter holidays: Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, they can make this time of year uniquely stressful. Time spent with family can dredge up painful memories or require you to set (or enforce) difficult boundaries. Costs associated with holiday travel and gift-giving can add up fast. Not to mention, the new year looming large is a recipe for anxiety. In fact, a November 2023 poll of more than 2,000 people conducted by the American Psychological Association found that nearly nine in 10 people report a trigger for stress during the holidays. If you’re in that camp, you might benefit from better understanding how you process and cope with stress, which can be explained in part by your personal astrology.

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Especially this year, seasoned pros and novices alike can gain something from looking to the stars, as December’s cosmic forecast contains tricky transits like a Mercury retrograde.

Why your astrology can shed light on how you experience holiday stress

For the uninitiated: In astrology, your sun sign (which is the sign where the sun was located when you were born, and what people usually mean when they refer to your zodiac sign) represents your personality and core identity. You can examine the qualities associated with your sun sign, as well its house placement and any aspects it forms to other planets in your chart, to better understand what activates your ego or stresses you out, and how you manage under pressure.

But, you’re also so much more than your sun sign. Other placements in your birth chart can also provide valuable information about how you handle stress. (To pull up your full chart, use a free online generator like this one.) In fact, “feeling emotionally under pressure during the holidays is an ideal time to prioritize your moon sign,” says astrologer Rose Theodora.

“Feeling emotionally under pressure during the holidays is an ideal time to prioritize your moon sign.” —Rose Theodora, astrologer

In your birth chart, the moon relates to “emotions, habits, family, and self care,” says Theodora. This celestial body is the “memory storehouse” of your chart, and its placement by sign, house, and aspect when you were born speaks volumes about how you instinctively react to stress. Your moon sign also reflects what you need to feel safe and, in turn, how you self-soothe. It’s an especially helpful placement to channel in situations where you might be feeling triggered.

Theodora also recommends taking a peek at your Saturn sign (aka the sign that Saturn was in when you were born), which represents where you feel “restricted from life circumstances.” After all, Saturn is the taskmaster planet, associated with rules and boundaries. Family obligations, financial limitations, health problems—all of these common holiday stressors fall under Saturn’s purview. (It’s no wonder so many people dread major Saturn transits, including the infamous Saturn return, which is when Saturn returns to the same position it was in when you were born.)

However, Saturn also rules discipline and responsibility. “Its higher purpose is always to show you what's not sustainable so that you can scale back and streamline what's causing you stress,” explains Theodora. That may look like setting boundaries or taking accountability for a situation you'd much rather ignore.

In general, stressful situations often ask us to grow up and show up—so, after you process your feelings in the style of your moon sign, you’ll likely lean on the qualities of your Saturn sign to deal with them in a mature way. That's why it’s so important to look beyond your sun sign (although there’s plenty of information to glean there, too). Together, these three placements paint a detailed portrait of how you personally process and manage stress.

Read on for your sun (and moon and Saturn) sign to learn how you can best mitigate stress this holiday season, according to astrologers.

How to use your personal astrology to mitigate holiday stress

Aries: Move your body

The symbol for the aries zodiac sign, which resembles a ram.

You’re ruled by Mars, the planet of ambition and physical exertion, Aries. Your cardinal nature also primes you for “action and initiation,” says astrologer Lumi Pelinku. Translation? Your sign likes to go fast, and the slower pace of the holiday season could leave you feeling irritable or restless.

That’s why it’s so important for you to practice being patient. If a relative rubs you the wrong way, wait a beat before reacting. And if you find yourself struggling to cool down, try to squeeze in some movement as a nod to your Martian nature. “Intense, cathartic workouts” are best for your sign, notes Theodora, but even a quick walk can work wonders.

Taurus: Get comfortable with change

Most people don’t like change, but no sign struggles with it quite as much as you do, Taurus. You aren’t just a fixed sign; you’re a fixed earth sign, which only reinforces your rigidity. Needless to say, last-minute changes to your holiday plans are likely to stress you out—and with a Mercury retrograde occurring during December’s peak travel dates, inconveniences are all but guaranteed.

“The way to transmute this intensity is to remain still and focus on one task at a time,” explains Pelinku. Change is an inevitable part of life, so try your best to make peace with it, and go at your own pace as you make any necessary pivots. You’re ruled by indulgent Venus, so treating yourself or leaning on creature comforts may help ease your discomfort.

Gemini: Talk it out

As an air sign, you “live out your expression by engaging with information and intellect,” says Pelinku. Your sign also answers to Mercury (the planet of learning and communication), Gemini, making you an adept orator. Nuanced conversations light you up, but debates with dogmatic relationships are likely to send you spiraling.

To relieve stress, try venting about your frustrations with someone you trust. Talking things out will help you relax and gain perspective. But give yourself extra time to formulate your thoughts this December, as your ruling planet’s retrograde could make communication trickier than usual. “Breathe deeply,” advises Theodora, “and count to 10 before you speak.”

Cancer: Practice mindfulness or meditation

You're the only zodiac sign ruled by the moon, Cancer—hence your characteristic sensitivity. You’re also a water sign, which enhances your emotional attunement.

Since you’re already in touch with your feelings, consider leaning on practices like “mindfulness and meditation” to reduce holiday stress, suggests Pelinku. You’ll have the stars on your side, too: This month’s tender full moon in Cancer, occurring on December 26, will encourage all of us (but your sign especially) to really sit with our feelings.

Leo: Love on yourself

As a “proud and powerful” fire sign, you take great pride in who you are, says Pelinku. Above all, you care about feeling affirmed and understood, Leo. Stressful situations may compel you to seek external validation—but really, you should be loving on yourself this season.

Consider whether you can give yourself the same love, respect, and affirmation that you crave, suggests Theodora. “Feeling witnessed, seen, and respected is ultimately only in your control,” she says. To relieve holiday stress, she recommends engaging with practices that promote self-love, whether that’s doing mirror work or donning your favorite dopamine-boosting outfit.

Virgo: Journal about it

You excel at making evaluations, analytical Virgo. However, you can easily become hyper-critical of yourself—especially around the new year, which prompts us to review our accomplishments. Plus, your sign got dealt some tough love from the cosmos in 2023. Since March, Saturn has weighed down your relationship sector, explains Pelinku. In 2024, you might be considering whether to “ascend your relationship status or dissolve your partnerships.”

That’s a lot to mull over and a recipe for a stressful holiday season. Instead of making any drastic decisions, try to actually parse your feelings. Pelinku recommends journaling or arranging a heart-to-heart chat with someone you love—two smart suggestions for your Mercury-ruled sign.

Libra: Put yourself first

Like Taurus, you're ruled by love-planet Venus, Libra. You care deeply about your relationships—so deeply, in fact, that you sometimes overlook your own wants and needs to please others.

For your sign, putting yourself first will help reduce holiday stress. You also feel nourished when you’re surrounded by beautiful things, says Theodora, so find ways to “decorate your space as your private sanctuary.” Better yet, consider setting clear boundaries with any relatives who stress you out.

Scorpio: Seek privacy

As a fixed water sign, you're “known to feel things deeply, which can be interpreted as being moody,” says Pelinku. Really, you just need time and space to sit with difficult emotions, Scorpio.

To minimize stress during the holidays, find ways to get some privacy. Even short windows of alone time will help you process your feelings and avoid unnecessary drama. You’ll have Mercury on your side, too. Per Theodora, the messenger planet’s retrograde in your communication sector will push you to have “realistic conversations about boundaries.”

Sagittarius: Leave room for adventure

As a passionate fire sign ruled by Jupiter, the planet of travel and expansion, you love adventure, Sagittarius. You’re also a mutable sign, meaning you tend to get stressed whenever you feel “tied down or told what to do by others,” says Pelinku.

For you, freedom is the ultimate stress-reliever. As you coordinate holiday plans, try to include a fun activity or excursion in your itinerary. And make sure you have an escape route in case you need to duck out from the festivities for some air.

Capricorn: Make a game plan

You're governed by Saturn, pragmatic Capricorn. As a cardinal sign, you prefer to initiate plans—and if you feel out of control, “your stress levels can skyrocket,” cautions Pelinku. That’s why planning ahead is your best bet to minimize friction during the holidays.

Pelinku suggests proactively “analyzing who is on your side” and divvying up any necessary tasks. That way, you can spend your time off relaxing, not giving out marching orders. (A word of caution: Mercury’s retrograde in your sign, and then in neighboring Sagittarius, could introduce some logistical issues. Strategize away, but don’t get too married to the details.)

Aquarius: Nourish your mind

You also traditionally answer to Saturn, Aquarius, but your air-sign nature makes you very cerebral. “You thrive being surrounded by people who stimulate you and reaffirm your brilliant ideas and viewpoints,” says Theodora. To reduce stress, find ways to make your holiday break feel more intellectually fulfilling. That could look like taking time out to attend a creative retreat or studying a topic you enjoy. (Might I recommend astrology?)

Pisces: Let yourself dream big

Like Virgo, you received a cosmic reality check from Saturn in 2023, Pisces. Self-development was a major theme for you over the past year, and as you reflect on all you have (or haven’t) achieved, “it may invoke stress,” says Pelinku.

To mitigate that, give yourself permission to dream big for the year ahead. Your way of thinking is innately “formless and dreamy,” a testament to your mutable nature and Jupiterian imagination. So, lean into it. Make that sprawling vision board; set those big-picture resolutions; and while you’re at it, use Saturn’s influence to help you commit to a course of action in 2024.

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