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Do You Find Holidays Stressful and Depressing?


Why do many people experience the holiday season with unpleasantness and discomfort? The answers are complex. It’s important to point out that many, even most people are not filled with stress, anxiety, and depression during the holiday season. The holidays begin around Halloween and extend to Thanksgiving and come to completion at Christmas and New Year. So, why do the Holidays become a problem for some people?

  • People who feel lonely during the year are likely to feel it more keenly at a time when families are together and celebrating.
  • Among those who can experience an increase in loneliness are those elderly people who have lost many loved ones and whose children and grandchildren live far away.
  • Loss can be felt with a renewed keenness at this time of the year because of all of the memories that are inevitably stirred up.
  • Family life is often stressful and getting together with parents and other family members can provoke or renew old feuds. Instead of being a time of joy it becomes a time of resentment and conflict.
  • There are usually expectations that must be met. Among these are providing gifts. However, the problem that often emerges has to do with what gifts are most appropriate and most wanted by relatives, friends and extended family members.
  • There is a lot of stress associated with this time of year because dinners have to be prepared and that means a lot of cooking. Houses must be decorated in ways that look festive and for those who are perfectionistic, this is particularly difficult.

Are Things Really This Bad During the Holidays?

The answer to the above question is, not necessarily. For example, it is not true that the suicide rate goes up before, during or after the holidays. In addition, the holiday season does not create or cause depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Rather, those with mental illnesses may feel it more keenly at this time. It is true that social isolation, loneliness, and depression are miserable ways to feel but those are problems that did not start with the holiday.

Some Coping Mechanisms 

  • I think it’s important not to have high expectations about family behavior when everyone gets together. A realistic approach will result in much less disappointment afterward.
  • Do not refuse to participate if neighbors invite you over because they recognize that you are alone. Even if you struggle with social phobia it is better to accept than to refuse.
  • During the entire year, it’s important to not drown sorrows in alcohol. All that succeeds in doing is to increase depression. This is equally true of illicit drugs.
  • Lots of exercises are really important. It’s always important to consult your physician before starting an exercise regimen. The connection between exercise and improved mood and function is a proven fact.
  • Finally, it’s important to not over-eat just because it’s holiday time. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t indulge a little bit but it’s important to not over-do it those who are already seriously over-weight, have diabetes, heart conditions or other health problems.

If you are prone to depression and anxiety during this festive time or anytime during the year, help is available. You are invited to contact me by phone, Email or through my website.

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