Holiday Depression and Stress
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
people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and
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:
- Unrealistic expectations
- 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 feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension.
People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses,
- Excessive drinking
Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year's Day. This can
result from built-up expectations and disappointments from the previous year,
coupled with stress and fatigue.
19 tips for coping with holiday stress and depression:
- Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can
- Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make
holiday tasks more manageable.
- Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.
- 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
- Live and enjoy the present.
- Look to the future with optimism.
- Don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today
with the good old days of the past.
- If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.
- Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday
decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter
weather, whether it's a snowflake or a raindrop.
- Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your
feelings of depression.
- Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
- Spend time with supportive and caring people.
- Reach out and make new friends.
- Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday
- Make time for yourself!
- Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.
- Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression
when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little
budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.
Is the environment and reduced daylight a factor in winter time sadness?
Animals react to the changing season with changes in mood and behavior.
People change behaviors as well, when there is less sunlight. Most people find
they eat and sleep slightly more in wintertime and dislike the dark mornings
and short days. For some, however, symptoms are severe enough to disrupt their
lives and to cause considerable distress. These people may be suffering from seasonal
affective disorder (SAD).
Research studies have that found phototherapy is effective in treating
people that suffer from SAD. Phototherapy is a treatment involving a few hours
of exposure to intense light.