Coping With Holiday Distress

There must be at least a few instances where you or someone you know have been gloomy around the holidays. May it be for various reasons: being away from home and family, the thought of spending holidays with strangers, financial pressure, etc. Why is it that the most wonderful time of the year is just a plethora of distress for some?

These un-welcomed guests called stress, depression, and anxiety are more common during the holidays than you’d think. The season’s demands — battling crowds while shopping and running errands, back-to-back holiday parties and social engagements, cooking meals and handing out gifts, house guests, and family — may all be potentially stressful. In addition, emotions of loneliness and isolation are typical over the Holiday season. Since the pandemic started, this is the second holiday season people have been unable to spend with their families and friends which can add to the already boiling holiday distress. 

Holiday blues can be a very personal feeling. What makes one person upset may not be the same for the other one. Sadness or despair over the holidays might be a reaction to the season’s tensions and responsibilities.

In certain situations, people may get unhappy during the winter holidays as a result of a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), sometimes known as seasonal depression. This is a sort of depression that occurs (and recurs) when the days get shorter in the fall and winter months. As the fall and winter progress, it is thought that afflicted persons react to the diminishing levels of sunlight and the colder temperatures, resulting in feelings of depression.

When there is less sunlight, people’s behaviors change as well. In the winter, most individuals eat and sleep a little more and dread the dark mornings and short days. Other symptoms, on the other hand, are severe enough to disrupt people’s lives and create significant distress.

To overcome holiday anxiety, you must first recognize that you are stressed. The indicators can be obvious at times, but this isn’t always the case.


While it’s common to feel pressured to keep your spirits up and a grin on your face over the holidays — pressure that can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and despair — it’s fine to feel a range of emotions.

With a few pointers, you can be more prepared to face whatever comes your way:

Be realistic

Prepare yourself for the holiday season with realistic expectations. Make attainable goals for yourself. Make a note of what you expect from yourself, what others expect from you, and your holiday responsibilities to help you manage stress. Be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot accomplish. Accept the fact that you don’t have to do everything and that not everything has to be perfect.

Reach out

Despite what appears to be an increase in social connection (trips to the mall, large family meals, back-to-back holiday parties), feelings of loneliness and isolation can increase throughout the holiday season. Make an effort to make new friends. Make touch with a long-lost family or friend to spread holiday pleasure. If you require additional emotional or physical aid with specific holiday duties, contact your friends or family for help.

Make small adjustments in lifestyle

One of your best defenses against stress will be to maintain healthy lifestyles during the holiday season. This include getting adequate sleep, eating appropriately, and maintaining a healthy level of physical activity. It also entails maintaining as much of your daily routine as possible, such as workouts, book club, or personal self-care time. Rather than allowing holiday responsibilities to disrupt your life, incorporate them into your daily routine. Limit your alcohol usage, as excessive drinking will only aggravate your depression. To enjoy the holidays in a unique way, try something new.

Stick to a budget

Keeping track of your festive spending is a good idea. When the bills arrive after the holidays, overspending can contribute to despair. Extra bills combined with a limited budget might contribute to increased stress and depression. Don’t expect an avalanche of gifts to bring you or others happiness. Instead, look for budget-friendly alternatives like as crafting homemade gifts or thrift shopping.

Spend time with yourself and learn how to say no

Decide what’s most essential to you or where you want to go, and give yourself permission to turn down other requests for your time. This also applies to traditions. It’s absolutely fine for your traditions to evolve over time and for you, your family, and friends to establish new ones to meet your changing lifestyle. Set aside some time to pamper yourself. Choose an activity that you enjoy. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without interruptions, may be enough to re-energize you and allow you to complete all of your tasks. Taking a walk at night and stargazing, listening to relaxing music, or reading a book are all great options to relax.

Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling unhappy or anxious all of the time, suffering from physical ailments, unable to sleep, impatient and pessimistic, and unable to complete daily tasks. Talk to your doctor or a mental health professional if these symptoms persist.

Don’t let the holidays become a source of anxiety for you. Instead, try taking precautions to avoid the stress and despair that sometimes accompany the holiday season. Recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial stress or personal obligations, so you can deal with them before a meltdown occurs. You may find calm and joy throughout the holidays with a little planning and good thinking.