How to manage the holiday blues

December 1, 2018

December is a month that is packed with family, friends, parties and much merriment for many people. Yet for others, this time of year can bring out feelings of isolation, sadness and even depression.

The proliferation of social media posts only fuels the situation by making many of us feel that we are on the outside looking in, and that others are having a much better time than we are. Something to be mindful of is that while it is in our nature to compare ourselves to others, there is likely much to be grateful for in our own life. Unfortunately, this tends to get forgotten, when feeling despondent.

If you are plagued by the fear of missing out, try to remember this: people only post their happiest moments, so what you’re really seeing is a small snapshot of what is likely a daily life that is much closer to yours. Know too that what you’re feeling is quite common –experiencing sad feelings around this time happens to many, and for many reasons.

The holidays can bring up memories of those who are no longer around to share them with you. Perhaps a loved one has passed away or simply moved away. Your holiday traditions may be continuing, but if those dear to you aren’t around, what was once happy is now infused with sadness.

Merrymakers and social butterflies may find that once the holiday festivities wind down and those jam-packed calendars in December transform into empty ones come January, feelings of bleakness, exhaustion and isolation can creep in.

Or perhaps you’re one of the many Canadians who is afflicted by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). With sunlight hours greatly diminished and Mother Nature often making it difficult to get out, you may find yourself isolated from friends and family, lethargic, and not enjoying those activities you normally do.

Understanding the reasons behind your sadness, stress or anxiety is actually your first positive step towards helping you cope with those feelings.

Consider some of the following strategies to help you get through this tough time:

  • Keep yourself busy with things you’re passionate about. Immerse yourself in a great book. Go to the movies. Try a new recipe. Make plans for lunch during the week. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. In short, stay busy. Distraction has the wonderful ability to keep blue feelings at bay. Conversely, you may want to use the holidays to appreciate some quiet time and just catch your breath and recharge. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You know yourself best and what will work for you.
  • Do something nice for someone else. Volunteer your time with a charity and make a difference in someone else’s life. Plan a fun gift exchange at work or bring in a surprise treat for your co-workers. Host an informal get together at your place. While these may seem like selfless acts on the surface, they’re actually selfishly geared to make you feel a whole lot better.
  • Exercise. There’s something to be said for how good that release of endorphins can make you feel. Exercise will also force you to go out and interact with other people – whether it’s an outdoor activity or a workout at the local gym.
  • Plan at least one thing to look forward to every week. From an outing with a friend, to a favourite show on TV, to donating your time to a local cause, make it a point to schedule something in to look forward to.
  • Know that these feelings are likely temporary. Look at the start of the new year as a fresh new slate that you can colour any way you like. Notice if your mood lightens as the holidays recede and the hours of sunlight increase. If you find that you’re still feeling blue or that it seems to be worsening, you may want to consider speaking to a healthcare professional.

Make a promise to take care of your mental health– it’s just as important as your physical well-being. There’s no better gift to yourself. And on this positive note, Canada Protection Plan wishes you and yours a safe, healthy and happy holiday!


The information contained is as of date of publication, and may be subject to change. These articles are intended as general information only, a licensed advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation.