Skip to content

Depression Health Center

25 Ways to Find Joy and Balance During the Holidays

Feeling down during the holidays can be tough.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feeling down during the holidays can be tough, especially since you seem so out of step with the world. Everyone else seems to be beaming, ruddy-cheeked, bursting with holiday spirit. You’re feeling wretched and exhausted.

But here’s something to cheer you up the next time you’re stuck in a room of revelers at a holiday party: Plenty of them are probably unhappy, too.

Recommended Related to Depression

Top 7 Therapy Myths Debunked

Many people have a perception of talk therapy that doesn't quite match up to reality. If you think therapy means lying on a couch with a box of tissues and paying top dollar to talk to someone who doesn't quite get it, or that it's only for people who are mentally ill, think again. It turns out that most people could benefit from therapy -- but it takes work on your part, a therapist who meets your needs and really does understand you, and as much time as it takes -- at your convenience and within...

Read the Top 7 Therapy Myths Debunked article > >

“I think a lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “They’re just straight up miserable, and that’s not only for people with clinical depression.”

So if the family gatherings, the endless parties, and the shopping get you down, you’re hardly alone. But people with depression -- or who have had depression in the past -- need to be especially careful when coping with holiday stress. While it might take some conscious effort on your part, you can reduce stress -- and maybe even find some holiday joy, too. Here are some tips.

Finding the Holiday Spirit: Emotions

1. Keep your expectations modest. Don’t get hung up on what the holidays are supposed to be like and how you’re supposed to feel. If you’re comparing your holidays to some abstract greeting card ideal, they’ll always come up short. So don’t worry about holiday spirit and take the holidays as they come.

2. Do something different. This year, does the prospect of the usual routine fill you with holiday dread rather than holiday joy? If so, don’t surrender to it. Try something different. Have Thanksgiving at a restaurant. Spend Christmas day at the movie theater. Get your family to agree to skip gifts and instead donate the money to a charity.

3. Lean on your support system. If you’ve been depressed, you need a network of close friends and family to turn to when things get tough, says David Shern, PhD, president and CEO of Mental Health America in Alexandria, Va. So during the holidays, take time to get together with your support team regularly -- or at least keep in touch by phone to keep yourself centered.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Today on WebMD

contemplation
Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
light therapy
What are the symptoms?
 
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
 
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
woman relaxing with exercise ball
Article
 
Pills with smiley faces
Article
Teen girl huddled outside house
Article
 
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
Article
antidepressants slideshow
Article
 
pill bottle
Article
Winding path
Article