The holiday season can shepherd love, gratitude and a sense of connection. Yet, oftentimes it can also bring unwanted feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and depression. The “Holiday Blues” are temporary feelings of anxiety or depression that can be associated with increased stress, unrealistic expectations or memories that accompany this season. Symptoms can include fatigue, feelings of sadness, lack of motivation for daily tasks, loneliness or isolation and shifts in mood. Below are some practical tips for combating the stress that accompanies the holiday season.

1. Set Reasonable Expectations

Let go of being perfect. The holidays do not have to be incredibly lavish or exactly like last year in order to celebrate with family and friends. Choose a few rituals or special traditions to hold onto, but give yourself a break. Instead of worrying about every small detail, take care of yourself and allow yourself to be present with those surrounding you.

2. Shift Your Perspective Through Acts of Service

Doing good for others can make you feel good about yourself. It can cultivate a sense of deeper connection within your neighborhood or community. This could look like volunteering at a church, shelter or school, donating toys or gifts to charities or even giving homemade gifts to neighbors. By giving to others, you can shift your perspective and take part in being grateful for what you have.

3. Engage With Others

If you feel lonely or isolated, engaging with others can help you feel a greater sense of belonging and acceptance. Seeking out solace from a place of worship, religious and spiritual groups, friends, family, or community organizations can be a good way to lift your spirits and invite comfort into your heart.

4. Let Yourself Feel

The holidays can bring a sense of loss and sadness. Allow yourself time to grieve and be authentic in that process. You do not have to pretend to enjoy yourself or force a smile on your face. Giving yourself permission to feel the sadness, anger and pain is a normal part of the grieving process.

5. Seek Help

Despite our best efforts, sometimes you may find yourself experiencing more persistent sadness or anxiety, inability to sleep, hopelessness and/or ongoing physical symptoms.

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