Tips for Making It Through the Holiday Season When You Feel Depressed

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, December 11, 2015

The Holidays Aren’t Always A Happy Time

When the holidays approach, most families will view this period as a time of reunion, fun, reflection and even gratitude for time spent together in the company of people we love. Time with friends and family has always been one of the central events in any holiday season.

But for some during these festive periods, it is not a time for celebration and cheer. There may be a variety of different circumstances behind it, but there are a few people for whom the holidays may be the worst time of the year, or, at the very least, an unhappy occasion.

A Time of Grief

While there’s obviously no law that demands people to be happy during holiday seasons, it can be alienating to those that experience sadness or depression as they feel they are experiencing the “wrong” emotion for the occasion. One of the most common reasons for this kind of sadness is understandable; missing departed loved ones who used to be an integral part of the holidays. When someone who has been an important part of your life is gone, and the holidays that mattered so much to the relationship arrive, it’s natural to think back on those times and feel sadness, loneliness and depression.

There is nothing wrong with this, but when these feelings go unchecked and grow in intensity, sometimes they can feel like they are too much to endure. And when that happens, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out help. There are many things a person can do to shake off the sadness and other negative feelings that may come with the season.

Try Something Different

If someone feels lonely because they usually spend Christmas or New Year’s Eve having dinner with a loved one and that loved one is now departed, the best thing to do is try a new activity. Nothing puts a dark cloud on the holidays more than someone following a yearly tradition without key members present. Don’t let this happen.

Look Out For Yourself or Others

One thing the holidays inadvertently do is make so many demands and create such a busy schedule that it’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel lost. If you or someone you know is starting to show signs of the hectic activity taking its toll, slow down. Be kinder to yourself and others, and take care of the things that really matter. Holidays aren’t meant to be draining, exhausting experiences, so if that’s happening, cut back.

Treat Depression & Suicidal Thoughts Seriously

Many people have expectations for how behavior during the holidays is supposed to play out, but every emotion is real and valid, including negative ones. People feeling depressed or suicidal should not ignore their feelings, and people who may notice loved ones exhibiting this behavior should not dismiss it, or tell them to “cheer up,” hoping the problem will go away by itself. Take the time to address these feelings. Don’t make people feel worse by telling them their emotions are “wrong.”

Get Help

If you or someone you know is having a serious emotional crisis, get some help. There are crisis centres in BC and throughout the rest of Canada that have trained staff on hand to either speak to distressed people directly, or offer advice for those looking to get help. and are two resources that people can contact—through either phone, e-mail or online chat— to get the help they need, or the advice to help a loved one during a difficult period. There are also national efforts that offer help to all Canadians, with many other options for advice or even personal counseling if you search for these resources on the Internet.


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