The Holiday Blues Series: Most Common Factors of Holiday Depression (& How to Manage Through Them)

During the holiday season, we tend to shift our focus from work and daily responsibilities to time spent with family and friends. For most, it is a welcomed respite from the monotony of the work week.  However, for some, this time of year can stir up problematic symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Mental health is always and important issue and becomes even more significant during the winter months.

The days are short, the nights are long, and the temperature drops. People tend to spend more time indoors alone and less time out and about socializing. This isolation can impact our mood and change how we use our free time. Social isolation, over eating, sleeping problems, and low energy are the most commonly reported issues associated with the change in weather and daylight. Exercise, a healthier diet, and consistent contact with others are some of the best ways to combat the long cold nights.

Leading up to the holidays many people around school/workplace will talk about their plans.

Families have traditions and these traditions are what make the holidays special and sometimes stressful. Some families may not have traditions and fall into the trap of viewing the holidays as “just another day off” and fail to see the value in the holiday season as everyone else. As a result, there is less involvement with others, a lack of productivity, and a feeling of missing out on something.  

The commercialization of the holidays is becoming more of a problem.

Barely after the Thanksgiving meal has been prepared (and often times, even well before!), ads filled with clothes, toys, and gadget dominated your newsfeed and television screen. Sales of all kinds are to be had and if you don’t buy the “perfect gift,” the holidays are wasted! Before you know it, you are shoulder to shoulder with everyone in town at the mall. You’re spending more than you anticipated and suddenly your finances are strained and the “perfect gift” can’t save you.  

The pressure to “give the perfect gift” or financially provide your loved ones with their desired items can be overwhelming.  Take things in stride, and manage your own expectations of what is feasible according to your schedule and finances.  It might be helpful to make a list of who you would like to purchase gifts for, and budget out a plan.  While the gifts may not be what you WANT to give your friends, it is the most realistic and responsibly option for you at this time.  Not only is this a great way to manage your wallet, but this approach also allows you to manage the stress associated with holiday shopping.  

If the chaos of the holiday schedule is stressful, establish a schedule based on your needs and wants and the needs and wants of your immediate family.  

If the back-and-forth of different locations seems to be too taxing, create or own structured events and activities.  

These activities can range in effort, but welcomes those who you would like to spend the holidays with.  Over time, these events and activities become traditions.  

Traditions are what will keep you occupied and combat the holidays blues.  

They provide structure, proactivity, and something to look forward to doing with the ones you love.

Don’t have a tradition?

Create one!

Don’t like the tradition you have?

Start a new one!

Just know that you are in control and effort is needed.

If used correctly and you put your energy into the right things, the holiday blues will only be something you read about!

Have questions or concerns about depression? Need support?

Please contact our counseling team to get help and support for your depression, sadness, or grief.

Photo credit: Mayra Ruiz-McPherson via ruizmcpherson