Healthy Living

How to Beat the Holiday Blues: 3 Tips for a Brighter Holiday Season

Dec. 22, 2022

The holidays can bring great joy. But why do some people feel sad this time of year? The pressure to show excitement combined with the rush of holiday activities and obligations can be deeply challenging for people struggling with stress, depression, and grief.

URMC Department of Psychiatry experts Anna Defayette, Ph.D., and Morica Hutchison, Ph.D., offer the following tips for beating the holiday blues:

Feel all the feelings

Feel your emotions in a safe way. Acknowledge them. Take time to cry or express your feelings instead of burying or denying them.

A recent American Psychiatric Association survey shows you’re not alone. It’s ok to feel sad about missing family – 47% of Americans do; worried about affording gifts – 46% of Americans do; or nervous about contracting and spreading COVID-19 – 43% of vaccinated adults do, too.

Reframe your thinking

Recognize and reframe unhelpful thoughts. Don’t believe everything you think. Ask yourself if your thoughts are true and helpful. If they are not, ask “What would be truer or more helpful for me right now?”

For example, if a relative's travel plans get delayed, you might think, "The holidays are ruined." But take a moment to think another, truer thought: "We still have other people here to celebrate, and once they do arrive, it will be that much more special."

If you need help processing your thoughts or they’re starting to disrupt your life, it might be time to ask for help. Explore 5 reasons to speak with a Mental Health professional, with information on how to find the right mental health service for you.

Build your tribe

Seek support from others—not just from family and friends but from religious communities, community organizations, social events or volunteering. There are also apps like Meetup.com and Bumble BFF that can connect you with people who have similar interests.

Make a plan for people to check in with you or a plan for getting through something especially challenging.

For more on these tips, view this video presentation from Defayette and Hutchison.