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Greg Hyatt
dealing with sadness at the holidays

Dealing With Sadness At The Holidays

Created by: Greg Hyatt


Let’s take a look into dealing with sadness at the holidays. The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy, love, and celebration. However, for many individuals, it can be a challenging period marked by stress, loneliness, and even depression. The pressure to conform to societal expectations of happiness during this time can exacerbate feelings of isolation and sadness. In this article, we will explore practical strategies to help you avoid falling into the trap of holiday-related depression.

Understanding Holiday Blues

Before delving into preventative measures, it’s crucial to understand the factors that contribute to the holiday blues. Some common triggers include:

  1. Social Expectations: Society often expects people to be cheerful and surrounded by loved ones during the holidays. For those who don’t meet these expectations, feelings of inadequacy and loneliness can intensify.
  2. Financial Strain: The financial burden of gift-giving, hosting gatherings, and travel expenses can contribute to stress and anxiety.
  3. Unrealistic Expectations: Unrealistic expectations about the “perfect” holiday can lead to disappointment. Comparing your celebrations to idealized versions portrayed in media can amplify feelings of failure.
  4. Loss and Grief: The holiday season may intensify feelings of grief, especially for those who have lost loved ones. Navigating the festivities without someone special can be emotionally challenging.
  5. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): The decrease in sunlight during the winter months can contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that occurs at a specific time of year, usually in the winter.

Now that we’ve identified some common triggers, let’s explore strategies in dealing with sadness at the holidays and try to change your outlook this holiday season.

  1. Set Realistic Expectations

One of the primary causes of holiday-related stress is the pressure to create a perfect celebration. It’s essential to set realistic expectations for yourself and acknowledge that not every moment needs to be flawless. Embrace imperfections, and remember that the true spirit of the holidays lies in connection and shared moments, not in an immaculately decorated home or an extravagant feast.

  1. Establish a Realistic Budget

Financial strain is a significant contributor to holiday stress. To avoid overspending, create a budget that includes all anticipated expenses such as gifts, decorations, and travel. Stick to your budget, and consider alternative, budget-friendly ways to celebrate, such as homemade gifts or shared experiences.

  1. Prioritize Self-Care

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care. Make time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it’s reading a book, taking a walk, or enjoying a warm bath. Self-care is not selfish; it’s a necessary investment in your mental well-being.

  1. Maintain Healthy HabitsDealing With Sadness At The Holidays

The holiday season often brings an abundance of tempting treats and indulgent meals. While it’s okay to enjoy festive foods, it’s essential to maintain a balance and continue prioritizing healthy habits. Regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and a balanced diet can positively impact your mood and energy levels.

  1. Create New Traditions

If the traditional holiday celebrations contribute to feelings of sadness or isolation, consider creating new traditions that align with your values and preferences. Whether it’s volunteering, taking a winter getaway, or hosting a small gathering with close friends, forging your own path can be empowering and uplifting.

  1. Connect with Others

Loneliness can be particularly challenging during the holidays. Actively seek out opportunities to connect with friends, family, or your community. Attend local events, volunteer, or join social groups with shared interests. Social connection is a powerful antidote to feelings of isolation.

  1. Acknowledge and Express Your Feelings

It’s okay not to feel festive all the time. Acknowledge and express your emotions, whether they’re joyous or challenging. Journaling, talking to a trusted friend or therapist, or engaging in creative outlets can provide a healthy means of processing and expressing your feelings.

  1. Set Boundaries

The holiday season often comes with numerous invitations and commitments. Be mindful of your own limits and set boundaries to protect your well-being. It’s okay to decline invitations or opt for low-key celebrations if that’s what you need for your mental health.

  1. Seek Professional Support if Needed

If you find yourself struggling with persistent feelings of sadness or depression during the holidays, don’t hesitate to seek professional support. Therapists and counselors can provide guidance and strategies to navigate the emotional challenges of the season.

  1. Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude

Cultivating mindfulness and gratitude can be transformative during the holiday season. Take moments to appreciate the present, savoring the simple joys and expressing gratitude for the positive aspects of your life. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help you stay grounded and centered.


The holiday season can be a challenging time for many, but by understanding the triggers of holiday blues and implementing proactive strategies, you can navigate this time with greater ease and resilience. Remember, it’s okay to prioritize your mental health, set realistic expectations, and create a holiday experience that aligns with your values and well-being. By taking intentional steps to care for yourself, you can embrace the true spirit of the holidays and foster a sense of joy and connection that extends beyond the season.

I can personally relate to all of the above issues. Going back in time, the last time my father was able to eat a meal with me was at Thanksgiving 2003. This would be the last time that he would be free from his bed as he was suffering from a malignant brain tumor that would eventually take his life.

On the second day of 2004, my dad passed on to be with the Lord. While it should be a cause of celebration as he was no longer suffering nor in any pain, the impact on my life for the holiday season would go on into infamy.

While it has gotten easier as the year’s have passed, it by no means that I have forgotten. However, with the appropriate change of how I now do things at the holiday’s certainly makes it a bit more bearable.

And did I mention it’s okay to cry. That has to be one of the hardest things when dealing with sadness at the holidays. I know that there are certain songs, movies, events that used to be celebrated and attended by the entire family that no longer exist, however, I will celebrate because I know my dad is in Heaven and free from the terrible disease of cancer.

Have you lost a loved on recently or just before the holidays in the past? Share with our readers how you cope and manage as you deal with your sadness that comes upon you during the holiday season.

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