holiday season can be a time full of joy, cheer, parties,
and family gatherings. But for many people it is a time of
self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures,
and anxiety about an uncertain future.
What causes holiday blues?
factors can cause the “holiday blues”: stress, fatigue,
unrealistic expectations, financial constraint,
commercialization, and the inability to be with one’s family
and friends. The demands of shopping, parties, family
reunions and house guests also contribute to feelings of
tension. People may also develop other stress responses such
as headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating and difficulty
sleeping. Even more people experience a post-holiday let
down after January 1. This can result from disappointments
during the preceding months compounded by the excess fatigue
Can environment be a factor?
show that some people suffer from seasonal affective
disorder (SAD), which results from being exposed to fewer
hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter
months. Getting out into the sun (Phototherapy), is a
treatment involving a few hours of exposure to intense
light, and is shown to be effective in relieving depressive
symptoms in patients with SAD. Other studies on the benefits
of sunlight found that early morning sunlight can be
effective in relieving seasonal depression. Some studies
suggest that patients respond equally well to sunlight
therapy when it is scheduled in the early afternoon. This
has practical applications for antidepressant treatment
because it allows the use of sunlight in the workplace as
well as in the home.
THINGS TO TRY
• Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try
to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize
your time. Make a list and prioritize the important
• Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t put
the entire focus on just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day).
Remember that it’s a season of holiday sentiment, and
activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase
• Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for
feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to
be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
• Leave “yesteryear” in the past and look toward the future.
Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be
enjoyed in its unique way. Don’t try to compare today with
the “good ol’ days.”
• Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of
your time to help others.
• Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to
look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making
a snowperson with children.
• Be aware that excessive drinking will only increase your
feelings of depression.
• Try celebrating the holidays in a different way.
• Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out
and make new friends, or contact someone you haven’t heard
from in a while.
• Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let
others share in the responsibility of planning activities.