Holiday Blues

The holiday season, for most people, is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. For many, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety.

What causes holiday blues?

Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typical sources of holiday sadness include:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Over-commercialization
  • Financial stress
  • The inability to be with one’s family and friends

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feeling overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Excessive drinking
  • Over-eating
  • Insomnia

Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year’s Day. This can result from built-up expectations, disappointments from the previous year, and stress and fatigue.

19 tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:

  1. Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
  2. Set realistic goals for yourself.
  3. Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.
  4. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.
  5. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
  6. Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year’s Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one-holiday event to the next.
  7. Live and enjoy the present.
  8. Look to the future with optimism.
  9. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.
  10. If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
  11. Find free holiday activities, such as looking at holiday decorations, window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether a snowflake or a raindrop.
  12. Limit your drinking since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.
  13. Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  14. Spend time with supportive and caring people.
  15. Reach out and make new friends.
  16. Contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.
  17. Make time for yourself!
  18. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
  19. Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

Overall be kind to yourself during stress and difficulties; it too shall pass.


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