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Immunizing Yourself Against the Holiday Blues & Depression

Immunizing Yourself Against the Holiday Blues & DepressionIt’s that time of year again — time to do the holidays and all the parties and preparations that go with them. And while the season can bring joy and happiness to many, there are some who don’t feel it’s “the most wonderful time of the year.”

We’ve all seen the stories and heard about studies showing the holidays can actually increase depression or anxiety levels in some people. And these individuals may quietly “suffer” as the rest of us enjoy all the trimmings. To these folks, this season and what it represents can all seem like a burden, an unrealistic and unreachable ideal.

No one is immune to feeling sad or irritable. We’re all capable of reaching the “bah, humbug” stage. However, there’s nothing inevitable about the holiday blues creeping into your life — and there are little things we can do to help shake off those feelings.

Here are a few ideas to help you with the holiday blues.

The first thing to understand is that everyone has his or her own level of mental health immunity. Like our regular immune systems, mental health immunity helps keep us on an even keel so we can cope with life’s stressors. Everyone can be happy when things are going right; the trick is to continue that when things aren’t going so well.

The secret is in how we approach those times. Done right, it can mean the difference between ruining your holiday or it just being a brief interlude.

Here are some simple things we can do to help cope with, and even enjoy, the holidays.

  • When we start to feel overwhelmed by the barrage of holiday images and messages, take a moment to focus on all of the things we do have. And I’m not necessarily talking about the 80” HDTV, although those are nice. So you got that 80” HDTV – now what?It’s funny, but the things we think will make us happy, in the long run simply don’t. That’s why it’s vital to keep an eye on the little things in life. And it really boils down to the lessons our moms taught us. There is something to be said for counting our blessings.
  • Be aware of how grateful you are for the important people in your life — husband, wife, children, parents and friends. Then make sure you let them know how grateful you truly are. This simple exercise can make a huge difference not only to them, but to your overall well-being, too. And be sure to focus on your other blessings — your job, your home, your favorite book or musical piece. In other words, be thankful for much of what we take for granted. I know that sounds relatively simplistic, but studies have shown that when you start to take a “life inventory” you’ll be amazed at the change it can make in how you feel.
  • Finally, we all need to realize that the holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. Be sure to be good to yourself, pace yourself so you can get through all of the parties, events and family gatherings. It’s easy to get burned out and that’s why we all need to make time for ourselves to recharge our batteries.

While it’s easy to get caught up in all the hype during the holidays, it’s important to remember what’s truly important in our lives. By focusing on those things, we can all be in a much better position to deal with the highs and lows the season may bring.

Immunizing Yourself Against the Holiday Blues & Depression

Barry Nierenberg, PhD, ABPP

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APA Reference
Nierenberg, B. (2018). Immunizing Yourself Against the Holiday Blues & Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 13 Dec 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.