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Holiday Blues: How to Feel the Christmas Spirit When Depressed?

The holiday season brings a wave of joy worldwide with its festive cheer and sparkling lights. Still, only 10% of people state they experience no stress during the season, and for 64%, this time can usher in the holiday blues. It is a form of Christmas depression that dims the seasonal sparkle. Let us delve into what holiday blues are, their signs, why they occur, and discover tips on how to survive Christmas despite the gloom.

What Is Holiday Blues?

Holiday blues, often interchanged with terms like “Christmas blues” or “holiday depression”, is a temporary feeling of anxiety or depression during the holiday season. Unlike chronic depression, holiday blues are usually short-term and directly related to the holidays. They can stem from various sources, including the stress of holiday preparations or the memories of past holidays.

Signs of Holiday Depression

Knowing the signs of depression during holidays helps in dealing with it better. Look out for these common symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness or mood swings. Feelings of sadness that seem to linger or sudden mood swings can be a sign of holiday blues.
  • Loss of interest in holiday activities. A significant indicator of Christmas depression is a lack of enthusiasm for activities that you normally enjoy. This could mean feeling indifferent about decorating, shopping, or participating in holiday gatherings.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep patterns. Big changes in how much you eat or sleep can be signs of being depressed.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt. If you feel down on yourself or guilty, especially about holiday things, it could be indicative of holiday stress leading to depression.
  • Fatigue or lack of energy. A general sense of lethargy or decreased energy levels, even when not engaged in physically demanding activities, can be a symptom of holiday depression.
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions. If you find it unusually hard to concentrate or make decisions, especially about holiday-related matters, it might be a sign of Christmas blues.
  • Withdrawal from social interactions. Choosing to isolate yourself and avoiding social interactions, if it is not typical of your character, can be a symptom of holiday blues.

Reasons Why Christmas Depression Happens

If you feel depressed at Christmas, there should be a reason for it. Understanding these causes is key to managing the condition. Some possible ones include:

  • Social isolation. Many adults feel sad on Christmas if they are away from family. This isolation can intensify feelings of sadness.
  • Financial pressure. The cost of gifts, travel, and festivities can create a lot of stress. Worrying about money can quickly turn into holiday stress.
  • Unrealistic expectations. Striving for an ideal holiday experience, frequently influenced by social media and advertising, can be overwhelming. When reality does not match these high expectations, it can lead to disappointment and Christmas blues.
  • Overwhelming stress. The hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, such as shopping, cooking, and entertaining, can be exhausting.
  • Grieving during the holidays. The holidays can be a painful reminder of the absence of loved ones.
  • Disruption of routine. Holidays often disrupt our normal routine of sleep, exercise, and diet, which can affect our mood and contribute to feelings of sadness on Christmas.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). For some, shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter can lead to SAD, which overlaps with the holiday season, intensifying the holiday depression.

How to Get in the Christmas Spirit When Depressed

There are ways to deal with holiday depression and find joy in the season. Here are some tips to help uplift your spirits and enjoy the festive time:

  1. Set realistic expectations. Remember, it is normal not to have a perfect holiday. Setting achievable goals can alleviate undue pressure.
  2. Create a new tradition. If old traditions bring sadness, try creating new ones. For instance, if you are unable to be with family, consider volunteering, which can provide a sense of community and purpose.
  3. Stay connected. Get in touch with your friends or join community events. Even virtual connections can help in coping with holiday blues.
  4. Practice self-care. Engage in activities that bring joy, whether it is reading a book or going for a walk. Self-care is crucial for mental health during the holidays.
  5. Seek professional help. If the blues feel overwhelming, do not hesitate to talk to a mental health professional.


While the holiday spirit might seem elusive when battling the blues, remember that these feelings are temporary. With the right strategies, it is possible to get into the Christmas spirit when depressed. And if feeling the Christmas spirit seems particularly hard, remember that reaching out to a mental health professional is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it will help you achieve the joy and warmth that this season is known for.

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