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December 15, 2022

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Handling Depression Around the Holidays

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The holiday season is upon us, which often brings a unique set of stressors. For some people, the pressure of the word “holiday” alone can trigger feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. In particular, managing depression during the holiday season can be difficult.

During these times, there are often more demands at home such as extra shopping, cooking, cleaning, entertaining and attending holiday events. Those demands coupled with work can become overwhelming and emotionally draining very quickly. But with a little bit of planning, a focus on prioritizing self-care and knowing where to go if/when support is needed, you can minimize the stress that comes with the holidays, resulting in a happier you.

Tips for Managing Depression During Holidays

  • Acknowledge your feelings – don’t attempt to force yourself into holiday cheer if this doesn’t feel natural to you. Sometimes holidays can bring back painful memories too and that’s okay. If you feel overwhelmed, consider writing out your feelings in a journal or reaching out to a friend. Ask a few friends you trust to be on standby if you need the extra support.
  • Be realistic – you may be surprised that you actually want to attend some dinners or parties. Allow yourself to accept that some holiday traditions change with time and that you may have a moment where you want to attend something you may have avoided in the past. Allow yourself that moment to celebrate and accept it as growth.
  • Give back – one way to deal with depression is to do something nice for someone else. It can be as simple as dropping off a meal to a friend, volunteering your time within your community or even donating to a local food or toy drive. Making others happy can help to boost your mood.
  • Prioritize you – take time for yourself and reflect on what genuinely makes you happy. Whether this is sticking with a healthy habit like good nutrition, meditation, exercise or catching up on some much needed sleep, counter the holiday pressures by allowing yourself some time for renewal. Avoid getting trapped in the often common overindulgence of the holidays and avoid excessive eating, alcohol and drugs as these could further impact your mood and energy levels.
  • Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help – despite our best efforts, sometimes the feelings of hopelessness and depression just take over. Being equipped to reach out when needed can make a world of difference and turn the dreaded holidays into a more peaceful time of year. Know that you are never alone and be ready to reach out to a professional if needed.

Resources for Handling Holiday Depression

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, please reach out for help. Reach the 24/7 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Access the chat feature (English only): Find more resources at the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

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