It is almost Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year…or, is it? While many of us can’t wait for the festive season to start, others dread and hate Christmas because they usually struggle with holiday depression and stress.
There are many reasons why some people feel depressed around Christmas time, and most of them are associated with things to do with their past, present, and expected future experiences.
Feeling depressed during the holidays is a very real thing many people experience. But you don’t have to feel this way. The good thing is that there are ways to stop feeling depressed so you can be happier and get in the Christmas spirit.
In this post, we shall discuss examples of reasons why you feel depressed around Christmas time and how to stop feeling sad during the holidays.
Why You Feel Depressed Around Christmas Time
- You have no family or friends
Lack of loved ones to celebrate the holidays with is, perhaps, one of the most common reasons why people feel depressed around Christmas time.
You may live alone or have no friends or family to spend time with during the festive season for various reasons, including; being too far away from them at Christmas time, them being dead, having been abandoned, or you cut them off due to toxicity.
Whether you are celebrating Christmas alone by choice or not, you may feel the absence of family and friends the most during the holidays.
Seeing other people spend the holidays with their families may worsen your depression during Christmas.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
Though some parts of the world are lucky to have sunny days during Christmas, other countries experience winter during the holidays.
So, if every year when winter starts, you usually have a low mood that only ends when spring begins, SAD may be the reason why you feel depressed around Christmas time.
Studies have found a link between vitamin D (the ‘sunshine vitamin’) deficiency and depression, which could explain why your mood is low during winter because the days are dark and cold.
If the weather is bad, you may be cooped up in the house for extended periods with nothing to do. And even though it would be an opportunity to spend time with your family and strengthen your bond, you may get bored.
They say an idle mind is the devil’s workshop, and this is what may happen to you if you get bored during the holidays in winter, especially if you are alone.
When you spend too much time with nothing to do but think, you may entertain negative thoughts, and that could be another reason why you feel depressed around Christmas time.
- Lack of money to spend on Christmas things and activities
If you cannot afford all the things usually associated with the festive season, for example, gifts, foodstuffs, or decorations, it could be why you feel depressed around Christmas time.
As the holiday has become more commercialized over the years, many people have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas. They do not remember that they are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and its significance.
Instead of keeping it simple by just attending a church service, going to a Christmas festival, helping others, or reading the Bible and watching movies about the life of Jesus Christ, most people are more concerned about all the things they should buy for their house, themselves, and their family members or friends.
When you have no money to spend on these things, you may feel stressed and sad during the holidays. You could even make the poor decision to spend all your December salary or the money you have saved for other important things to purchase Christmas stuff and end up broke in January.
READ ALSO: How to Manage Money When You’re Broke
- Bad memories associated with Christmas
Many things can happen during the holiday season that could make you hate Christmas forever. The reason why you feel depressed around Christmas time may be that the festive season brings up traumatic memories of things that happened to you at such a time in the past.
For example, you may have been abused, a loved one died, you broke up with someone, had an accident, were abandoned, or you/your parents could have gotten a divorce during the holiday season.
When you have traumatic memories associated with the holidays, you may feel depressed whenever Christmas comes around. The holiday will trigger the bad memories and make you relive those terrible moments all over again.
The unfortunate thing is that even if you choose not to celebrate Christmas, it may be impossible to avoid seeing the things associated with the festive season as they are usually everywhere at this time.
Deciding to stay indoors the entire holiday season may not be a good option either.
As you grow older, your way of thinking about things changes, you gain new experiences, and things or people around you change. Nostalgia could be one of the reasons why you feel depressed around Christmas time.
The Christmas music, movies, scents, and activities remind you of your past when you were probably happier and had no problems. You remember how magical Christmas used to feel in your childhood, and it doesn’t feel the same for you as an adult.
As you reminisce, you may feel sad when you remember the people you used to celebrate Christmas with and the good times you had. You may have a sense of loss as the people may no longer be here because they died, you drifted apart, they moved away, or you had a falling out.
As much as you miss your family and want to spend time with them during the holidays, sometimes they could be the reason why you feel depressed around Christmas time. It may be because of small things like unfair gift-giving. Or it could be due to all the intrusive questions your family bombards you with about your relationship status, career, parenthood, and more.
Additionally, they may compare you with your age mates and other family members, thus making you feel inadequate and unaccomplished. Nonetheless, you may also feel depressed during the holidays if you are the one comparing yourself with others.
People post cute pictures and videos about their ‘perfect’ families on social media during Christmas. If you see these posts and you are single or childless, you may feel like you are behind on things.
When you go home for the holidays and meet up with your former classmates, you may compare your achievements with theirs and feel depressed if you think they are doing better than you.
- Pre-existing mental health issues and problems
Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but you probably don’t see it that way right now. The reason why you feel depressed around Christmas time could be that you already have problems and mental health issues such as depression and stress.
If you were depressed before the holiday season, you will not miraculously heal just because it is Christmas. Similarly, if you were already facing some challenges, they will likely still be there even during the festive season.
Getting into the Christmas spirit when depressed and stressed can be hard.
Furthermore, seeing the happiness of the rest of your family as they participate in all the festivities may fail to lift your spirits. Instead, it could worsen your condition as you may think that your presence is unnecessary or that you are bringing everyone’s mood down.
If you are feeling depressed during the holidays, it would be wise to seek professional help from a therapist as soon as possible. They will help you find the root cause, deal with your problems, and heal.
- Unaccomplished goals
What were your New Year’s resolutions this time? Have you achieved any of the goals you set for yourself? Since the holiday season is at the end of the year, many people often reflect on the past year to identify their achievements and failures.
If you only see failures, missed opportunities, negative experiences, and losses when you look back on the past year, it could be the reason why you feel depressed around Christmas time. You may feel sad and think that it is too late to do anything to achieve your goals before the year ends.
The holiday season can make some goals that you didn’t or couldn’t achieve even more painful. For example, if you wanted to become a parent but found out you can’t have kids, seeing all your friends posting about their children can make you feel worse.
Having unaccomplished goals can make you judge yourself harshly and feel like a failure for not meeting your expectations or those of others.
- Family drama
You are supposed to feel happy when spending time with your family. So, why do you feel depressed around Christmas time when you are with them?
Not all families have fun and bring comfort to each other when they spend time together. For some families, getting together during the holidays offers the perfect opportunity to confront each other about things the members disagree on, which brings negative energy into your home.
Based on past holiday gatherings, you may feel depressed around Christmas time each year because you already know there will be family drama when you are all together in the same place.
You know that particular family members can’t stand each other, so there will probably be some tension, passive-aggressive comments, arguments, or even physical fights at some point.
Some family members will overshare, and others will gossip or complain about other family members behind their backs. The constant family drama can make the holidays depressing and tension-filled.
- An unhealthy lifestyle during the holidays
Most people often eat and drink too much during the holiday season. And who can blame them? The delicious foods cooked on Christmas can be tempting even though most of them are high in calories. Furthermore, you may feel social pressure to eat.
Unfortunately, for many people, overeating is often followed by guilt for overindulging and sadness or fear that you will gain weight.
The unhealthy eating habits you develop during the holidays could be the reasons why you feel depressed around Christmas. You may beat yourself up for failing to stick to your diet or fitness program during the holidays.
Since it is also common for most people not to get enough sleep during the festive season, sleep deprivation could result in negative emotions, which may lead to holiday depression.
READ ALSO: How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain
How to Stop Feeling Depressed During the Holidays
- Practice gratitude and focus on the positives of the past year
- Remind yourself what Christmas is supposed to be all about
- Do acts of kindness by volunteering and donating your money, clothes, and other things to charities and the unfortunate
- Go on a Christmas vacation
- Keep yourself busy and go outdoors
- Focus on the present instead of the past or future
- Forgive yourself and others who may have wronged you
- Avoid spending Christmas in an unhealthy environment, set boundaries, or cut toxic people off
- Go out to make new friends or visit your friends if you have any
- Organize a virtual Christmas celebration with your family and friends if you are depressed during the holiday season because you are too far away from them
- Develop healthy habits and stick to them to avoid holiday weight gain and depression, e.g., eating healthy foods in the correct portion sizes, exercising regularly, limiting your alcohol intake, and getting enough sleep, etc.
- Start new holiday traditions and make new memories
- Open up and let your loved ones know how you are feeling and how they can support you
- Stop beating yourself up if you failed to stick to your New Year’s resolutions and start over.
- Seek professional help from a therapist
If you usually experience holiday depression, you don’t have to feel this way. Christmas is supposed to be magical, and knowing why you feel depressed around the holiday season will be a step closer to making it so.
You can make Christmas a happier and more wonderful time of the year by using the above tips to learn how to stop feeling depressed during the holidays.
Read more articles from Aisles of Life here.