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Avoid the Holiday Blues

For some people, the holidays aren’t a time of family, happiness, cheer, and feasting.

It’s a time of depression, isolation, and headaches. If you are one of the people who have more anxiety than joy at this time of year, what can you do to avoid the holiday blues?

No Comparisons

One of the most illuminating quotes I ever heard was, “All unhappiness comes from negative comparison.” Therefore, if you don’t negatively compare yourself to other people, that should eliminate feelings of things aren’t as good as they could be. I totally agree with this, but especially at Christmas. If you are holding these ideals that everyone is having this warm, Normal Rockwell Christmas, or that everyone is going on an amazing resort holiday except you, or are holding on to some idea that things are supposed to be different than they are, you’re likely to be upset. Let it go. Enjoy the season for whatever it is.

Remember It Is the Season of Giving

With the slow economy, you may be focused on all the things you want to give, but can’t. While this is the season of giving, there is more to give than just stuff. In fact, many of the things in life that are appreciated the longest are gifts of the self. So, why not give your time, your attention, your smiles, your compliments, your love, and your sincere admiration to everyone you meet? The more you give, the more that returns to you.

Maintain a Healthy Routine

One of the things that increases the likelihood of depression is overindulgence in food, alcohol, and socializing. Our healthy routine goes by the wayside and our bodes feel it. Enjoy the holiday treats, but don’t over do it. Set limits. Continue to get plenty of rest. Eat well. Sleep well.

Be Involved

Lucy from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” had it right when she said, “You need involvement.” When you are engaged in the festivities, hanging out with friends, laughing, having fun, and doing something either useful or enjoyable, there is no room for depression. You can’t be sad when you are interested and engaged. The key thing to remember is that it’s about quality, not quantity. Doing two things when you are fully present in are much better than doing ten things where you just go through the motions.

Schedule Some Down Time

The holidays can be about go, go, go! There are lots of parties, shopping to be done, presents to be wrapped, food to be cooked and eaten, people to see, and so much more to do. While it’s fun to do all those special things, you also need some quiet time to rejuvenate. Don’t say “yes” to every opportunity. Schedule some downtime so that you are bright eyes and bushy tailed rather than drained.

Don’t Overspend

It’s tempting to go overboard with presents- especially if you show love through gifts. Set limits and stick to them. Being able to play Santa Claus can give you a short term boost, but if you are spending too much, the long term negative effect will make your holiday blues worse.


Sometimes the holidays are about remembering people who are no longer here. That can make you feel sad. If that’s contributing to your blues, allow yourself space to feel what you feel. Your sadness doesn’t go away because it’s the holiday season, but your holidays don’t have to be shrouded in gloom either. You can have space for both remembering and enjoying. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

If things get overwhelming and you find yourself isolating, sleeping a lot or not at all, eating a lot or not at all, staying in bed, not attending to your daily hygiene needs, and feeling angry, irritable, sad, or hopeless for days at a time, tell someone. You may be experiencing more than just the holiday blues.

Laura Giles, LCSW, is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.