Christmas Blues: What It Is and How to Deal with It?

Christmas Blues: what it is and how to deal with it?  | UPMC Italy

The so-called Christmas Blues indicates the depressive state that many people experience during the Christmas season. Let's see what it is and how to cope with this form of Christmas melancholy.

Putting up the tree and decorating the house, gathering with family and setting the table, exchanging gifts and toasting the year that is going away and the one to come: for many people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, filled with joy and happiness. However, especially for people who are going through a period of distress or discomfort, the Christmas season can coincide with what is called Christmas Blues, a form of depression that shares some traits with seasonal affective disorder but is confined to the holiday season and usually resolves when the holidays end.

What is Christmas Blues?

The society in which we live associates the holiday season with happiness, close-knit families, love, and sharing. However, not all people feel conformed to this image, so they may manifest states of anxiety and distress, frustration, anger, a sense of sadness and loneliness, and an overlapping of negative thoughts.

Christmas lights, songs and atmosphere can’t help: people suffering from Christmas Blues will feel melancholy and inadequate, and could develop a more severe form of distress.

What are the causes of Christmas depression?

Christmas Blues can occur for several reasons, contributing to a sense of sadness and uneasiness during the holiday season.

  • The media often present an idealized image of a perfect Christmas, creating unrealistic expectations. Comparison with the lives of others or with our past can generate dissatisfaction and sadness.
  • The holidays lead to increased stress due to extra activities, such as searching for the perfect gift or organizing dinners with friends and relatives. These additional tasks can generate anxiety and financial worry.
  • The lack of family or friends during the holidays can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and contribute to sadness. People without social support may feel particularly isolated during this period.
  • The Christmas season prompts reflection on the past year. If set goals are not met, feelings of frustration, anger and depression may arise.

It is important to recognize these factors and adopt strategies to manage stress, such as planning relaxing activities, moderating expectations, and seeking social support.

Some tips for dealing with the Christmas Blues

  • Accept and welcome sadness, anxiety and frustration. Denying these feelings results in an inability to cope and resolve them.
  • Take care of yourself. Carve out time to do what you love, give yourself a gift, and maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet. Exercise has been proven to improve mood.
  • Free yourself from negative thoughts by focusing on the present, reminding yourself that you cannot change the past or control the future. Savor and be aware of each moment as Mindfulness teaches us, and drop the critical and judgmental attitude toward you.
  • Set boundaries and indulge your needs. This can be a good time to train yourself to say "no" and to learn to delegate.
  • Don't isolate yourself. During this time, work commitments are reduced, you have more time to think, and you often tend to lock yourself in the house, perhaps watching TV filled with images of joy and happiness that risk making you feel even worse. Better to get out of the house to do something you enjoy, a session at the gym, go to the cinema or theater, visit an exhibition, or even a simple walk.
  • Reduce stress about gifts. If you can, better plan well in advance for purchases and set the budget.
  • Consider volunteering. Helping others has been proven to generate positive feelings and sensations. You can help others and scale back your frustration, anger, sadness.

If you are going through emotional and psychological distress, or if your symptoms persist, you can seek help from our specialists.