Dealing with the Holiday Blues

How to Effectively Deal With The Holiday Blues

By Marcy Shoemaker, Psy.D., staff psychologist

The holiday season is a time when things should be “merry and bright,” but many people find themselves feeling the exact opposite. It can be a difficult time of year for those who are dealing with the death of a loved one or coping with their own illness or loss of independence. Unrealistic expectations of the “perfect” holiday may cause others to feel down in the dumps during the season. Still others are simply affected by the anticipation of the holidays made stronger by decorations in windows, commercials and specials on television, and carols on the radio.

Are there ways to effectively manage the holiday blues? How can you help your loved ones and yourself when these feelings rule your emotions? We don’t need to isolate ourselves from the joyful feelings of others, but we can find ways to develop a more realistic view of the holidays. The good news is that there are ways to manage and survive the holiday blues!

  1. It is okay to spend time remembering the past. Many people try to avoid

    thinking about their childhood or previous holiday celebrations because it causes them to feel sad. It is okay to cry. Why not take out a photo album and remember previous good times?

  2. Now, take these emotions and incorporate them into action by finding ways to

    celebrate some of your favorite traditions. Decorate your home. Buy or make a gift for a friend, or give a gift to a stranger in need.

  3. Volunteer. Helping others in need during the holidays can replace sadness with more positive emotions.

  4. Share your holiday stories or traditions with a friend.

  5. If you have limitations due to an illness, find new ways to participate in the holiday. If you can’t cook, help decorate or plan activities for your family or friends. You can send cards or e-mail greetings. It is also okay to receive presents and visits from others instead of giving if you are not feeling well.

  6. Change your expectations. During the holiday season it is not unusual to believe that everyone else is happy, all families get along, most people have unlimited budgets, etc. It is helpful to step back and challenge your holiday expectations and write down realistic expectations of the holiday – including setting a realistic budget, reducing holiday obligations, etc.

  7. It maybe helpful to attend a support group or meet with a professional counselor who may have objective opinions to share.

    The holiday blues can be managed when you approach this season with a fresh plan and approach. May this season bring you a fresh and new prospective to the holidays and a happy and healthy New Year.