12 Tips For Dealing With Holiday Depression

By Stephanie Kirby

Updated August 19, 2019

Reviewer Lauren Guilbeault

The holidays are supposed to be one of the most joyous times of the year. There are plenty of get-togethers, lots of delicious food, and decorations galore. What's not to be excited about, right? While this is many people's favorite time of year, there are also people that deal with holiday depression.

What Is Holiday Depression?

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Holiday depression is simply depression that you feel around the holidays. Some people feel it leading up to the holidays and other people feel it after the holidays are over. This can differ from each person and its cause can also be different from one person to the next.

Some of the causes of holiday depression include:

  • Loneliness
  • Recent loss of a loved one
  • Financial strain
  • Social anxiety
  • Stress
  • Unrealistic expectations

While some people are feeling merry and bright, others are struggling just to get through the day. This can be a very difficult thing for people to understand if they haven't experienced it themselves. However, if you have experienced it, or currently are, you know how difficult it can be. Here are some tips to help you deal with holiday depression.

  1. Don't Be Afraid To Switch Up Tradition

The holidays are usually full of tradition. However, if you are feeling depressed, you may not want to go through the motions of the normal activities that you do. That's okay. Don't pressure yourself into trying to keep up with things that you did years ago when you were feeling much better. It's okay to relax on the traditions and let some things go until you feel better.

  1. Go Through The Motions

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This somewhat contradicts the previous tip, but some people find that if they simply get started on doing an activity or attending a social gathering, they end up feeling better once they get there. The idea of getting dressed up and ready to go might make you want to stay in bed, but once you get to the party you may find that you are enjoying yourself. This can be a nice reprieve from the depression symptoms that you are experiencing.

  1. Don't Set Unrealistic Expectations On Others

The holidays are usually spent with others, which can set us up for being let down. We may expect a certain person to attend an event that they miss, someone to bring a dish that they forget, or a certain present that doesn't get bought. Let go of your expectations for the year.

Allow things to just happen and don't put pressure on others to make everything "perfect". It's also important to remember if you are dealing with holiday depression that other people are not going to be able to "fix" you. Don't think that everything would just be better if so-and-so did this or that. Remember, that no one else is going to be able to make you feel better when you are depressed.

  1. Let People Close To You Know What's Going On

There is no reason that you should hide your holiday depression from your family and friends. Instead, let them know what you are going through and how you are feeling. Make sure to let them know that you don't expect them to make it better. Talk to them about things that you are comfortable with at the moment and also that you may not do all of the things that you normally do during the holidays.

  1. Allow Other People To Help

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If you are the person that is usually responsible for pulling the holiday together this can be a difficult thing to do. Allow yourself to delegate tasks to others and ask others to pitch in and help. If you've been running the holiday for years, people might not know how to help you with it. Make sure you find a way to divvy up the tasks. Or if your depression has you to the point that doing that sounds too overwhelming, simply hand the reigns over to someone else for the year. Allow them to do it in the way that they see best even if it's different than yours.

  1. Don't Play The Comparison Game Of Holidays Past

It's easy to look back on the good old days and get frustrated that the current holiday looks nothing like it. Maybe you loved the holidays when your children were little, but this year they are grown, married, and spending the holiday with their in-laws.

Allow each holiday to be the best that it can be without comparing it to others. Some will be better than others. They won't be perfect and they can't all be the same.

  1. Get Enough Rest

The pressure of the holiday can make it difficult to rest. There are a lot of activities that need to be completed and places to go. When you are starting to struggle, get out your calendar and start marking time off. Use this as "me time". You could use it to stay home and sleep, watch a holiday movie, read a book, or any other activity that you enjoy.

Make sure that you are getting enough sleep at night. Parties going late and early morning busyness can make it difficult to get the rest you need to feel your best.

  1. Watch What You Eat

Holidays generally come along with big meals and lots of desserts and sweets. This can wreak havoc on your body. It can have a negative impact on your digestive system and rob you of the nutrients that your body needs to be at its best.

Don't be afraid to let yourself indulge a little, but don't let your eating get out of control. If you are feeling down around the holidays, it's easy to find things to snack on instead of dealing with your emotional pain.

  1. Exercise

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There are so many benefits to exercising. It's not only great for your physical body but it's also good for your mind as well. It helps to boost endorphins in your brain that improve your mood. It can also help you to get better sleep at night and to release anxiety, tension, and anger that you may be feeling.

Even though things get busier for you around the holidays it's still important to take time to exercise.

  1. Connect With Others

When feeling depressed, many people start to seclude themselves from others. They withdraw from family and friends, avoid going to social gatherings, and just stay home behind closed doors. This may feel like the most comforting thing to do at the moment, but it is not helpful for you and your holiday depression.

Some people struggle with holiday depression because they're lonely. If you don't have family and friends to enjoy the holiday with, it can be incredibly lonely because it seems like everyone else is surrounded by people that they love. Remember that this isn't true and there are lots of people that are in the same place as you.

Look for ways to connect with others whether it's getting together with friends or co-workers or looking for a way to volunteer.

  1. Take Your Mind Off Yourself

Depression usually brings with it a lot of anxious thoughts and worry. It's easy to get so wrapped up in your thinking that you become wrapped up in yourself. Regardless of what's going on around you, you can't help but take your mind off of your worries.

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Something that you can do to help fight this is to look for ways to put the focus on other people. You could do this by volunteering your time at a local shelter, visiting a nursing home, or looking for other ways to help those less fortunate than you. Sometimes this simple mind-shift of focusing on other people is enough to help you start to feel better as you are able to appreciate what you do have.

  1. Get Professional Help

If you're dealing with any type of depression, including holiday depression, there's treatment available to help you through your struggle. Just because depression isn't something that you deal with on a normal basis, it doesn't mean that you need to suffer silently through the holidays just waiting to start feeling better when it's over.

Depression can be complicated. You never really know when it's going to just go away. That's why it's best to learn what you can do to address that when you're starting to struggle. The tips included here can help, but it's also a great idea to talk with a therapist. They can help you pinpoint if your depression is coming from a specific event in your life and they can also help you learn additional strategies and tips to deal with your depression.

Sometimes just being able to talk with someone outside of your family and friends about what you're going through can be healing and itself. Look for a local therapist in your area, or you can find an online therapist through companies like BetterHelp. This will allow you to get the help that you need in dealing with your holiday depression.


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