Holiday Depression and Stress

Holiday stress

The holiday season for most people is a fun time of the year filled with parties, celebrations, and social gatherings with family and friends. For many people, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness, and anxiety.

What Causes Holiday Blues?

Sadness is a truly personal feeling. What makes one person feel sad may not affect another person. Typical sources of holiday sadness include:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Over-commercialization
  • Financial stress
  • The inability to be with one's family and friends

Balancing the demands of shopping, parties, family obligations, and house guests may contribute to feelings of being overwhelmed and increased tension. People who do not view themselves as depressed may develop stress responses, such as:

  • Migraines
  • Excessive drinking
  • Over-eating
  • Insomnia

Others may experience post-holiday sadness after New Year's Day. This can result from built-up expectations and disappointments from the previous year, coupled with stress and fatigue.

19 Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress and Depression

1. Make realistic expectations for the holiday season.

2. Set realistic goals for yourself.

3. Pace yourself. Do not take on more responsibilities than you can handle.

4. Make a list and prioritize the important activities. This can help make holiday tasks more manageable.

5. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do.

6. Do not put all your energy into just one day (i.e., Thanksgiving Day, New Year's Eve). The holiday cheer can be spread from one holiday event to the next.

7. Live and enjoy the present.

8. Look to the future with optimism.

9. Don't set yourself up for disappointment and sadness by comparing today with the good old days of the past.

10. If you are lonely, try volunteering some time to help others.

11. Find holiday activities that are free, such as looking at holiday decorations, going window shopping without buying, and watching the winter weather, whether it's a snowflake or a raindrop.

12. Limit your drinking, since excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.

13. Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.

14. Spend time with supportive and caring people.

15. Reach out and make new friends.

16. Make time to contact a long-lost friend or relative and spread some holiday cheer.

17. Make time for yourself!

18. Let others share the responsibilities of holiday tasks.

19. Keep track of your holiday spending. Overspending can lead to depression when the bills arrive after the holidays are over. Extra bills with little budget to pay them can lead to further stress and depression.

SOURCE: MedicineNet: "Holiday Depression and Stress."

24-7 Crisis & Suicide Prevention Hotline

If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional challenge and having a hard time during the holidays, or any time of year, it is important to remember there is hope and help.

We’re here. North Central Health Care offers 24/7/365 confidential and anonymous Crisis Services and emergency phone counseling and intervention to help you through your roughest moments — be it emotional, mental health, suicide prevention or substance abuse issues. Call now.


800.273.TALK (8255)
National Hotline will link you with Crisis Care in any area in the United States.

Toll-Free Call connecting you to Crisis Support in the Marathon, Langlade and Lincoln Counties.

Connecting you to Crisis Support in Marathon, Langlade and Lincoln Counties.

TDD 715.845.4928 - For those with hearing or speech difficulties.

Outpatient Services

North Central Health Care also offers counseling and therapy in our Outpatient Services, to help those who may be struggling with seasonal depression or anxiety. Appointments can be made with a counselor or therapist and may include individual, family, or group therapy. Offices are located in Wausau, Merrill, Antigo and Tomahawk, as well as speciality services available for children offered while they are in school through Counseling in the Schools.

Outpatient Services by Location

Wausau Campus: 715.848.4356
Antigo Center: 715.627.6694
Merrill Center: 715.536.9482
Tomahawk Office: 715.453.5381