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Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues


December 11, 2019 | Published by

For many of us the holidays bring the joy of shopping, community, and weather you can bundle up to. For others this means financial stress, isolation, and a lack of sunshine to keep them going. If you find yourself feeling down around the holidays, here are some tips to bring back some cheer.

Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle

While it’s important to make time to spend with friends and family, it’s easy to over-commit, making you feel like you have more obligations than you do time. Sometimes it’s best to be open with loved ones and reschedule for another time. You just might find yourself enjoying your time together more without the pressure that comes with the holidays.2

Consider your holiday budget (and beyond)

Financial stress is all too common during the holidays. But while we may do our best to stick to our budget during the shopping season, much of the stress can come once the holidays are over and the bills arrive. Be sure to keep in mind the coming months when considering your holiday budget.3

Be optimistic about the future

As the new year approaches, it’s not unusual for people to make resolutions, only to give up down the road. But if you really focus on what can bring you happiness in the future, and set your mind to sticking with it, you may find yourself in a much better place this time next year. Instead of thinking of these things as another resolution to be flippant about, consider it a lifestyle change.3

Volunteer to help others

Volunteering your time is a wonderful way to give back to others and help yourself feel better in the process. Volunteering at a soup kitchen during the holidays is a great way to lend your time as they are busiest during the holidays. Other great ways to volunteer include setting up a food or gift drive, and helping neighbors set up holiday decorations.1

Look into free holiday activities

Money can be tight around the holidays, but thankfully there are many festive things to do that are free or low-cost. Visiting other neighborhoods to enjoy other’s decorations, window shopping, and getting out to take in the winter weather are all examples of free holiday experiences.3

Limit your alcohol consumption

Overindulging in alcohol is common around the holidays. It’s often readily available, and extra stress can make it easy to justify going overboard. While it may seem like it’s reducing your stress, it’s important to remember that alcohol is not only a depressant, but also a naked carbohydrate in an extremely refined form.5

Create new traditions

It’s common for people to get caught pining for happier past holidays, especially if one’s current situation isn’t ideal. Rather than long for the past, mix things up by creating new traditions. Consider taking baked goods to a local children’s hospital, or possibly taking a small vacation somewhere that doesn’t hold painful memories.1

Try being social

This time of year can be especially tough for people without a significant other, family, or whose loved ones live far away. Kenneth Yeager, PhD, clinical director of the Stress, Trauma and Resilience (STAR) Program at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, says just getting out around town for a short while can lift your spirits. Going to a local bookstore or café for a brief conversation or exchanging smiles has been shown to improve moods.1

Get in contact with loved ones

For many of us the holidays can mean isolation and loneliness. If you’re separated by distance, getting in touch with loved ones is only a phone call, email, text, or even a letter away. The holidays are also a wonderful to patch up fractured relationships. Unresolved issues with loved ones can often be the root of stressors simmering in the background.2

The holidays bring about additional stress that, compounded with other life events, can be overwhelming. For many, loss and grief go hand-in-hand this time of year. Reach out to loved ones, especially those who may also be feeling loss. It’s ok to feel down and to acknowledge to yourself and others that you miss a loved one.1

Another common cause for depression during the holidays is season affective disorder. While it’s possible for many of the above tips to help ease the suffering of SAD, be sure to seek professional medical help if you are feeling depressed for long periods of time.4 And remember that, while it may be difficult, many general self-care routines can help with depression, anxiety, and stress. Getting proper sleep, practicing a healthy diet, and removing stressors from your life are all easy things to forget as we get wrapped up in this busy time of year!


  1. Jaworski, M Holiday Depression: How to Beat the Holiday Blues. Psycom.
  2. 12 Days of Stress Management.
  3. Stoppler, M Holiday Depression, anxiety, and Stress. MedicineNet.
  4. Legg, T Holiday Depression. Helathline.
  5. Avoiding and Minimizing Holiday Stress.


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