The holidays are supposed to be a time for family gatherings and cheerful celebrations but it isn’t that way for all of us. With the stress of shopping, cooking, decorating, and the high expectations we put on ourselves the holidays can leave us feeling stressed and depressed. Not to mention some events from past holidays may be a sad reminder and leave us with the “holiday blues” making it almost impossible to even celebrate the holiday. So most are left wondering how to beat holiday blues that will allow them to enjoy the holiday season again.


What are the Holiday Blues?

For many people, the holidays are filled with sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and self-reflection. What causes some of us to feel sad may differ from person to person. Some typical reasons for holiday depression may include:

Associating the holidays with unresolved issues

You may have an unresolved issue with a family member or a painful childhood experience that hasn’t been properly vetted or resolved that the holidays stir up making it hard to benefit from the joy of spending time with others.

Ignoring feelings

In order to keep up the holiday cheer, you may ignore your signs of the blues such as your feelings of sadness, loneliness, and depression which only causes more problems.

Loss of a loved one

When some of us are looking forward to the holiday season others dread it. For those who have lost a loved one during a holiday that time stirs up grief reminding them of the time they once shared together.

Unrealistic expectations

Serious and Concerned Woman at Home During Holiday Season

Although there is nothing wrong with having expectations of others, unrealistic ones can cause stress on the relationship.  The idea that some cannot make mistakes is not realistic and expecting this because it is the holidays can put a damper on any holiday mood.

Having expectations that you “should” feel good

High expectations can lead to disappointment and not having realistic expectations that you may not feel good will only lead to more depression.

Being away from family and friends

Depression causes you to isolate yourself and that isolation causes more depression. You want to be alone but you need people around you to lift you up.

Reflecting on loss and disappointment

With losses and disappointments comes pain, but if that pain is not handled properly it can lead to feelings of doubt, despair, discouragement, and depression. This can make it hard for some to have any holiday cheer.

Coping with changes in family obligations

Holidays bring up memories and for those facing a recent divorce, those memories are painful. Dealing with changes in the family obligations can be difficult during the holidays and can play a big part in the families “holiday cheer”.

Drinking more alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant and therefore drinking alcohol to help ward off unwanted feelings is more likely to give you the blues and make depression worse.

Some may not experience holiday depression until after the New Years which is referred to as post-holiday blues. This comes from a disappointment of not having lived up to the expectations that were set the previous year.


What are the Symptoms?

Holidays blues has symptoms that are most similar to amplified depression. This is true for those who are already dealing with depression and even for those who may not have been depressed

Simple activities (such as getting out of bed, making dinner, and taking a walk) may be more difficult to perform than normal, which may be just a short period of seasonal depression.

Other symptoms of the holiday blues include:

  • feeling more tired than usual
  • lack of interest in things that used to bring you joy
  • difficulty concentrating

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

Teenage girl looking out the window

Though many of us may be facing the holiday blues, thankfully there are many simple ways to beat this joy stealing affliction and lift your spirits again.

Make realistic expectations for this holiday season.

Setting unrealistic expectations can cause an enormous amount of stress especially when you can’t fulfill them. So this year keep things simple.

Set realistic goals for yourself.

Talk to your family and find out what traditions you want to hold on to this year and make goals that are reachable. The holiday season does NOT have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

Pace yourself.

Do not try to do more than you can handle. Don’t do a big dinner if you can’t. Say NO to those party invitations if you don’t want to go.

Make a list and prioritize the important activities.

This can help you to manage your task and definitely reduce a bit of stress. Only do what you can do.

Live for the present and look to the future.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by looking in the past and comparing how well you did. Live for today and be optimistic about the future.

Don’t isolate yourself.

If you need help, ask your children or partner. If you feel lonely, do volunteer work or holiday decorating. Get out and take a walk and look at the Christmas decorations.

Limit your alcohol.

Since drinking can increase your feelings of depression, limit how much you drink this holiday season. Try a new non-alcoholic holiday punch recipe.

Luscious Slush Punch Recipe and Video - This fruity, fizzy, slushy pineapple-strawberry punch recipe makes enough to refresh a crowd.
Image courtesy of Recipe courtesy of Valerie Cain Cuff

Spend time with supportive people.

Give your friends a call and hang out. Contact an old friend or relative and spread some holiday joy. Send out them Christmas cards.

Make time for you!

Get others to help with the Christmas task and take a break. Take a warm bubble bath and read a nice book. Don’t neglect your normal healthy task getting wrapped up in the holiday excitement.

Keep track of your holiday spending.

Spending too much money during the holidays is a big stress and can lead to depression after the holidays. Make sure you make a budget and stick to it.

Read my post on ways to save money holiday shopping




The holidays are a time to be joyful and merry. Although you may be facing things in your life that are causing you difficulties there is a way to get some relief. Don’t isolate yourself. Put yourself in the company of your family and friends who love you. Use these tips to help turn those holiday blues into holiday cheers.

Have you ever faced the holiday blues or do you know someone who may be down this holiday season? Do you have tips you use to keep your spirits up during the holiday season? I would love to hear about it below.

10 thoughts on “How to Beat Holiday Blues – 10 Tips To Bring Cheer”

  1. Such a nice and informative article and I am sure every reader will benefit from it. When we think about holidays, we only think about relaxation and enjoyments but you are absolutely right it is also linked to bad moods and blues. Thank you so much for providing us with such an informative article that all of us should read and I am going to share this with others for sure…

    1. Yes, sadly for a lot of us the holidays isn’t always filled with cheer. A lot of circumstances can make celebrating the holidays difficult(not by choice)and we have to remember not to ignore these difficult feelings and just get by, there are ways to help. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Thanks for reminding all the happy people that the holidays aren’t that way for so many others. You gave great coping and connection suggestions. It’s (depression) hard to see when we are in it, we should all try and make an effort to reach out more, especially over the holidays. Thanks again for sharing

    1. Hi BB,
      Thank you, I am glad you found it useful. I agree when we are suffering it is not always easy to see. That is why it is important to reach out and for others to reach out to loved ones who may be suffering. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Holidays, particularly “Christian” holidays, used to fill me with quite a lot of anxiety. Years ago, I stopped celebrating most holidays. It was amazing how judgmental people in my inner circle became about my decision. I’ve been called Scrooge and The Grinch. Keeping with my decision hasn’t been tough, but I certainly have dreaded the approaching holiday seasons.

    Over the years, I’ve become a lot more comfortable. My inner circle has gotten used to my boycotting. Interestingly enough, strangers don’t care. I’ve also employed my own tactics for dealing with some holidays. Simply not being around people who want to drag me into misery. Yes! Holidays are a time to treat me to a vacation. It’s a great time to surround myself with people who want to pamper tourist, regardless of what they choose to celebrate or not celebrate.

    Great article. Holidays can be difficult for many people. Being down isn’t something we’re encouraged to be open about. Everyone wants to see smiles and joy, and it’s not like that for everyone.

    1. Hi Renee,
      I don’t believe anyone should ever force anyone to do something because of their own preferences. I believe if a person wants to share your preference they simply will. If someone loves you or at least cares for you they will be okay with your choices. You taking the holidays as a time for you is a great idea. It reminds me of a movie where the neighbors got mad because one family decided to skip Christmas, which made no sense. Thank you for sharing your story, I appreciate it and I wish you all the best!

  4. Thanks for this great article Melissa.

    Being apart of a family who lost a loved one a few years ago can be tough. Things that you’d usually do together at Christmas, don’t feel the same anymore or remind you of them. It’s important to try to stay positive and optimistic because I always like to think it’d make them happy.

    Merry Christmas and take care!

    1. Hi Jeremy,
      I too have lost a loved one during the holidays and I can sympathize. It isn’t something you get over, you only find a way to work through it because of the constant reminder. I think staying positive and optimistic is the best option and I agree, I don’t think they would want us miserable. Thanks for sharing and you have a Merry Christmas as well. Take care!

  5. I didn’t realize just how many reasons that there are for feeling the holiday blues. The holidays can be a stressful time of the year for many people so it seems.

    I feel that it is important to check on each other at this time of year. So we should all ask our family and friends as well if they are ok and what we can do to make the holidays more enjoyable.

    1. Hi Owain,
      That is a great suggestion. The holidays are usually a time we come together so why not check in and see what you can do for others. If you know someone is making Christmas dinner why not ask if they need any help. Don’t assume everyone is okay because they laugh and smile. Many people mask their depression with their humor. Thanks for the great comment!

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