Published on December 09, 2020

How to Cope with Holiday Blues and Find Joy in Season

Many factors can contribute to what is commonly known as the “holiday blues.” Whether it be environmental stressors, loss of loved ones, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, over-commercialization, financial constraints, work factors, depression, anxiety, stress of a pandemic, or possibly Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition resulting from fewer hours of sunlight as the days grow shorter during the winter months, holiday blues should not be ignored.

With holiday blues, some may become depressed, develop unhealthy coping strategies or develop physical symptoms. Physical manifestations can include headaches, muscle aches and pains, excessive drinking, fatigue, irritability, overeating, or difficulty sleeping. 

Regardless of the cause or symptoms, some of the following suggestions may help reduce the holiday blues and bring joy back into the season: 

  • Reduce expectations and adjust as needed
  • Follow safety precautions and respect others’ efforts in this area
  • Share feelings with someone positive and supportive
  • Start a new tradition
  • Do something nice for someone else without telling them
  • Participate in activities that are free
  • Limit alcohol and sugar
  • Reserve time for self-care such as meditation, aromatherapy or exercise
  • Enjoy sunshine at every opportunity
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do
  • Give the gift of time to someone special
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Do your best to stay present in the moment, appreciate the little things
  • Express gratitude
  • Don’t hesitate to ask for help
  • Write in a journal or send someone a letter
  • Wrap gifts in comics paper or hand-decorated brown bags
  • Post a positive statement on the refrigerator, mirror or door and recite it often
  • Write down on paper and practice what you might say and do during difficult situations
  • Limit your time with negative people
  • Find something to laugh about such as watching a good morning or classic sitcom

Those unable to cope with stressors or feel stuck are encouraged to seek help. The Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) mental health day program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot is available for those who need additional support. Those interested in more information about the PHP program may call (989) 466-3253. Those interested in more information on MidMichigan’s comprehensive behavioral health programs may visit www.midmichigan.org/mentalhealth

Adapted by Michelle Lucchesi, M.A., L.L.P., from an article by Bonnie Milledge, M.A., L.P.C.