Feeling blue this Christmas? Here are ways to keep spirits bright for the holidays


This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Christmas season is supposed to be a joyous time of year — but not everyone has the holiday spirit. 

Illnesses, loss of family members or friends, financial stress, loneliness or other worries can become the Grinch that stole Christmas joy for many. 

The “Christmas blues” or “holiday blues” are described as temporary feelings of anxiety and depression that occur around the holidays, due to extra stress, unrealistic expectations, or sentimental memories associated with the season, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). 

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During this time of year, some people might be at risk for feelings of sadness, fatigue, tension and a sense of loss, NAMI notes on its website. 

Seasonal factors may affect people’s mood quite seriously. Decreased sunlight, an increase in drinking alcohol at holiday parties, changes in diet, the over-commercialization of the season or not being able to see family or friends may all be factors. 

During this festive time of year, some people may be at risk for feelings of sadness, fatigue, tension or a sense of loss. However, there are steps to take to banish the Christmas blues, say experts. (iStock)

It is important to note that these moods are temporary, experts say. 

“A mood such as a ‘blue mood’ is a passing phenomenon,” Dr. Mark Sirkin, a clinical psychologist in New York, told Fox News Digital. 

A woman from Long Island, New York, told Fox News Digital that her holidays growing up as a kid and young adult were “like a Christmas card. We lived with our grandparents and siblings all under one roof, so the holidays were always so fun with a huge crowd and decorations.”

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However, the woman said now that she has lost family members, the warm happiness of the holidays has been replaced with loneliness and a bit of sadness. 

“It’s tough reflecting on what [the holidays] were like versus what they are now,” she said. 

Close-up of a decorated Christmas tree

“Try to focus on happier thoughts and images and do something enjoyable, preferably with others,” said one psychologist about handling the blues at this time of year. (iStock)

Sirkin, who is an associate dean of health professions at Long Island University, said there are things people can do to turn that “down” feeling around.

Ways to combat the Christmas blues 

“Distract yourself, try to focus on happier thoughts and images, do something enjoyable, preferably with others. These are all good ways to ‘treat’ a blue mood,” Sirkin said. 

With social media being extremely prevalent in society today, many fall into a trap of comparison. This is especially true during the holidays, when many people are posting picture of their Christmas festivities.

“For every smile or laugh in a TikTok picture, there is a lot of reality that you don’t see,” said Sirkin.

Research shows that, for some people, constantly looking at the pleasures of others might actually make them feel bad, said Sirkin.

“Stop! Change the channel!” advised Sirkin. “Call a friend and have a real conversation. Everyone has ups and downs — you, your friends, even those annoyingly happy people on social media.”

He added, “Don’t focus on what you think you don’t have. Focus on what’s good.”

“Everyone has ups and downs — you, your friends, even those annoyingly happy people on social media.”

Doing something for others during the holiday season can brighten your mood, the psychologist said. 

Two people wearing Christmas attire waving on video call

During the holidays, one psychologist said people should challenge themselves and say, “Why shouldn’t I be happy?” (iStock)

Options for giving back include donating toys and warm clothes, volunteering at a food drive, or raising money for an important cause. 

Ways to treat yourself during the holidays 

While the holidays are a time for giving, it is also important to treat yourself. 

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Make sure you are giving yourself grace and treating yourself to activities that you enjoy, say experts. 

Among Sirkin’s suggestions are to reward yourself with a nice dinner or some other treat. 

“I put on the fire, watch a movie and pour a nice glass of wine to give myself a boost.”

Also, challenge yourself and say, “Why shouldn’t I be happy?” and “I deserve to be happy.”

Margaret Palermo of Huntington, New York, agreed with the notion of treating yourself during the holidays. 

“I put on the fire, watch a movie and pour a nice glass of wine to give myself a boost during the holidays,” she told Fox News Digital. 

With the fire ablaze and wine in hand, pop on a festive flick. If you need a laugh, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Elf,” or “Christmas with the Kranks” are all good options. 

mother and daughter holding Christmas light by tree

“Interacting with others, especially people with whom you have deep relationships such as family, is a great way to get out of your funk,” said one psychologist. (iStock)

If you are in the mood for a classic, “The Polar Express,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” are some ideas. 

Another suggestion from Sirkin is to interact with others. 

“They are my family — friends that are family — and I enjoy being around them. They help me feel a bit happier.”

“Resist the urge to isolate yourself or crawl into a corner. Interacting with others, especially people with whom you have deep relationships, such as family, is a great way to get out of your funk,” he said.

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Louise M. of Long Island, New York, said she makes plans with friends to celebrate during the holidays now that she does not have living family members.  

While it does not replace her memories of Christmases past with her family, she can still create nice seasonal memories with friends, she said. 

child with holiday gift

Thinking about others and interacting with friends and family can help people during the holidays, experts say. (iStock)

“They are my family — friends that are family — and I enjoy being around them. They help me feel a bit happier.”

Inviting friends over for a night full of holiday dishes, Christmas cocktails and maybe even a Secret Santa gift swap can help combat the holiday blues. 

Exercise is another way to help battle the holiday blues, according to health experts.  

One woman enjoys walking around her neighborhood and looking at the holiday decorations and lights when she feels the holiday stress taking over.

Taking a brisk walk or riding a stationary bike indoors can get that blood and “feel-good” hormones pumping.  

This can help improve moods, physical therapists told Fox News Digital. 

holiday candle and lights

For those who feel stressed during the holidays, meditation or mindfulness can help, according to one psychologist. It’s a “verified method of getting out of a bad mood,” Dr. Mark Sirkin said. (iStock)

A woman in Annapolis, Maryland, told Fox News Digital she enjoys walking around her neighborhood and looking at the holiday decorations and lights when she feels the holiday stress taking over.

If it is too cold or dark outside for a walk, she said she hops in the car, puts on some holiday music and looks at holiday lights throughout her town. 

Many houses throughout the country have extravagant displays that can be fun to check out with hot chocolate in hand. 

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Practicing meditation or mindfulness can also help, according to Sirkin. 

“This is an increasingly popular and verified method of getting out of a bad mood,” Sirkin said.

“Just sit: You can count your breaths, count to 10 over and over, or any other way you’d like to focus your mind. There are some good apps out there you can put on your phone,” he said.

“People should understand the difference between feeling sad and dealing with a mental illness.”

YouTube is another great resource to turn to if you need guided meditation. 

How to budget for the holidays 

Some health professionals said people can avoid stress caused by excessive holiday gift spending by setting a budget and sticking to it. 

Christmas can put people into loads of credit card debt. A thoughtful gift does not mean an expensive one. Do not spend outside your means. The weeks or months you will endure in debt are going to add lots of stress to your life beyond the Christmas season. 

Write down everyone you need to buy for, and create a budget for each person. Once you find something you want to buy, do not purchase it right away. Do research first and see if there is a sale going on at another store to make sure you are getting the best deal possible on your item. 

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Once Christmas is over, the last thing on your mind is next year’s festivities. That said, the earlier you start putting aside money for the holidays, the less financial stress you’ll be hit with during the season. 

One method to consider is putting a very small sum of money aside for Christmas throughout the year. Whatever amount you have saved in December will be your budget for Christmas. 

man holding credit card and on laptop

Set yourself a strict budget when Christmas shopping. Holiday debt can cause a lot of stress beyond the holidays. (iStock)

Feelings of sadness versus mental illness 

People should understand the difference between feeling sad and dealing with a mental illness, Sirkin noted. 

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“If you think you might have a mental illness — if you have regular thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself, if you think you may harm yourself or others, if you can’t function at home or work — these are all signs of serious mental illness,” he said. 

sad older woman

It is important to know the difference between feelings of sadness and dealing with a mental illness. (iStock)

“You should seek out professional help, beginning with your physician or trained mental health professional,” he added.

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxnews.com/lifestyle.





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