How to Cope With the Holiday Blues

This time of year can be tough on people. Here’s why and here’s how to infuse some peace into the season.

Written by Nadene Cherry
Published on Dec. 01, 2023
How to Cope With the Holiday Blues
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Feeling more sad and dark than merry and bright this holiday season? You are not alone.

According to the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people surveyed said their stress increased during the holiday season. On top of that, 64 percent of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.

3 Tips for Handling Holiday Stress

Create a holiday budget and stick to it. This ensures your expenses don’t come at the expense of your peace of mind.

Just say no. Overcommitting leaves you filled with exhaustion and regret. Give a heartfelt note of appreciation for the invitation and kindly decline with a reason.

Schedule solo time. Go on a walk, make a grocery store visit by yourself or sneak away for a therapy session during the holidays.

The stress and increased mental health challenges don’t just negatively affect our holiday experience. They also spill into how we show up at work. The holidays, supposedly a time to relax and recharge, can wind up making us feel even more drained and depleted upon returning to the office.

Here are a few reasons why the holidays might be more draining than energizing and a few things you can do to change that.

More From Nadene CherryHow Meditation Can Make You Better at Your Job


Why the Holidays Can Be Tough

Let’s look at six reasons why not everyone is feeling peace, love and joy this holiday season.

Unrealistic expectations

Scrolling on social media and seeing the picture-perfect family surrounded by a beautifully decorated tree can leave us with feelings of inadequacy. Comparing our unique family dynamics and holiday experiences with those of other people can lead us down a path striving for impossible perfection, ultimately making us feel let down (or deflated).


Knowing you can easily enjoy a warm holiday meal, surrounded by loved ones, while so many people cannot can be difficult during the holidays, leaving us with heavy hearts.


While the holidays paint a picture in our minds of being surrounded by friends and family, many people spend the holidays alone. Some are far from their family members and logistical challenges keep them apart all year round. Some people have lost loved ones, making the holiday season an emotionally challenging time. Some people have no family at all, which leads to loneliness and changes the holiday experience completely.  


The changes in routine and pressure from the holidays can stress us out. Too much family time, travel logistics and shopping for gifts are just a few reasons so many people feel serious stress during the holidays.

Financial Strain

Most people aren’t saving money during the holidays — they are spending it. Gifts for family and friends, holiday decor, flights, hotels and more adds pressure to our pocketbooks, leading many people to enter the holidays already feeling down.

Too Much To Do

The invitations are pouring in and many people have trouble saying “no,” so they say “yes” and feel the stress. Hopping from holiday party to holiday party, leaving yourself with little time to unwind, will leave you feeling depleted after the holiday break instead of recharged.

more holiday adviceWhy You Shouldn’t Write Off Job Hunting Over the Holidays


How to Find Peace

Here’s the great news. This holiday season, you can embrace updated traditions to protect your peace. Just because “it’s always been this way” doesn’t mean you should continue sacrificing your joy during the winter months.  

A few supportive edits to your holiday ritual will leave you feeling connected to yourself, grounded and peaceful as you step into the new year. Here are suggestions to protect your peace this holiday season.

Steer Clear of Social Media

If you are in comparison mode because of perfect pics you see online, disconnect and take a social media pause. Instead of scrolling on the sidelines, put your phone down and jump onto the field with your own family. While your family may not be picture-perfect, the love is there. The only way to feel it is to participate in it.

Give Joy

Deepak Chopra says, “If you want joy, give joy.” If you are feeling holiday guilt, invite your family to make a donation to a special charity or suggest volunteering at a local hospital or community center.

Branch Out

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, branch out. Celebrating the holidays is about being with people who lift you up and that isn’t always close family. Create new traditions with neighbors, join a colleague or member of your community for the holidays, or volunteer at an organization that helps children, older people or animals. 

You deserve to enjoy the holidays with less stress and more present, positive moments. Don’t be afraid to switch things up to protect your peace. Happy Holidays.

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