Keeping Yourself Sane During the Holidays

Updated on December 24, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Although not in the medical field, medical topics fascinate this author. Liz urges folks with any medical issues to see their doctors.

Bright lights and decorations entice us to spend, spend, spend
Bright lights and decorations entice us to spend, spend, spend | Source

Depression Is Common at This Time of Year

Such a happy, joyous season! The kids are on winter break, people may be going on vacation to see loved ones, festive parties and feasts abound—what's there to be sad about?

Put the brakes on for a moment here. The plain fact of the matter is that the entire winter season is troublesome for many people. There are actually studies that show a spike in deaths over the winter holidays. The phenomenon is still being researched, but theories abound and include such things as reluctance to seek emergency medical care during a holiday, to short staffing at some hospitals.

For those who have previously lost a loved one during this time, each year becomes a sad reminder of the missing person. That never goes away.

In the Northern Hemisphere, there is also the impact of the weather and the short days, which can be gloomy and stormy instead of sunny. However, the studies on spikes in deaths have also been found to hold true in the Southern Hemisphere where the weather is warm and sunny at that time of year.

Live in the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.

— Nhat Hanh

Unrealistic Expectations

It does not help that the media is chock-full of advertising portraying happy, happy families all together: a miraculous "Leave It to Beaver" unrealistic family picture, where the kids never grumble or balk at requests, complete with sappy songs playing in the background. One of the worst offenders in this category, in this author's opinion, is “There's No Place Like Home For the Holidays.” It claims, “If you want to be happy in a million ways, for the holidays there's no place like home sweet home.”

Well, not so fast! Some families are lucky to have a wonderful, loving bond with all their members. Unfortunately, this tends to be not as common as we would like. Dysfunctional families are more the norm than not these days.

Between fractious fathers; bawling babies; arguing aunties; conniving cousins; naughty nieces and nephews; manipulating mothers; unbearable uncles; and garrulous grandparents, spending time with family for some people can spell misery.

Retailers don't help at all by rushing the season and putting out holiday-themed merchandise as early as October in some areas. Personally, I find this both ridiculous and offensive. My solution is to avoid the stores other than for groceries as much as possible until after the new year. One of my daughters was born in late November; it used to tick me off no end that my purchase of her birthday gift got counted in their “Christmas sales” tallies.

Now, I don't worry about it. I either purchase her gift earlier or give her something handmade. And if I miss and end up buying it during the holiday sales push, I don't waste my energy anymore by getting upset.

It can also be stressful if you are on a limited budget, and can't afford to shop. Again, the media advertising people gifting extravagant things such as luxury vehicles surely puts a sour spin on one's mood. Who does that, anyway? Precious few, I'll bet; the top wealthy 1 percentile, maybe. But everyman? No way.

When it rains, look for rainbows. When it's dark, look for stars.

— Anon.

Keep Yourself Protected

Here are some tips to help you through what can be a difficult time:

  • If you don't feel well, speak up, and seek help if you feel you are having a serious illness coming on, remember: heart attacks can masquerade as indigestion in some people.
  • Don't feel obligated to attend every single party or holiday function. It's okay to "just say no," and indulge in some self-care during this time. Make time for you!
  • Monitor your mood and avoid things (such as sappy songs or sad songs) that make you feel blue. Listen instead to happy, upbeat songs. If you have any religious beliefs, listen to songs that give you hope. If you aren't religious, listen to funny, silly songs instead.
  • Avoid groups of people at parties who are discussing controversial topics. This only adds stress, as there is almost invariably an argument going on. Feel free to walk away and excuse yourself from such conversations.
  • If you do find yourself feeling blue, then consciously do something that will provide the opposite feeling. Whether it is taking a bubble bath, going for a walk, or curling up with a good (happy) book and mug of hot chocolate, 'just do it.'
  • Don't try to take on too many projects. You are not super-human and you shouldn't try to be. No one should expect that of you, either. I'm generally not a fan of “shoulds” and “should-nots,” but this is the exception. Don't overextend yourself. You only end up fatigued, frustrated, unhappy, and could end up depleting your immune system and falling ill. It's not worth it!
  • Don't take on extra stress by having conniption fits over how others express holiday sentiments. It's not a big deal. There are many different kinds of celebrations during the winter. Christmas does not have a corner on the market. People also celebrate Hanukkah, Yule/Solstice, Kwanzaa, and several others. Some don't celebrate anything at all. So if someone out in public says “Happy Holidays,” don't get your panties in a bunch; people are not mind readers and cannot know your particular celebration. “Happy Holidays” covers them all, with favor to and prejudice against none.

Self care is how you take your power back.

— Anon.

Don't Beat Yourself Up

If you do find that you have gotten a case of the weepies and can't seem to pull yourself free, don't add to the stress by telling yourself you “shouldn't” feel that way. There is no blame to be laid; give yourself permission to have a good cry, if need be. It can be very therapeutic.

If you need to bow out and spend time alone, do it. Society won't fall apart because you didn't participate in holiday celebrations. Family will get over it. If they don't, then ask yourself if you need that kind of stress and pressure in your life. My guess is you don't. Cutting off family can seem especially hard, but in some extreme cases, it's the only solution.

I'm not suggesting you isolate yourself, either. Merely make smart choices about those with whom you spend your time. Make sure those people fit your style and are not just “obligatory” visits.

Mind you, I'm neither a doctor nor a mental health professional. I am just a person who has been through a good deal of this, and I'm sharing what has worked for me, as well as what I've learned in a stress management group I attend on a regular basis. If you feel like you really are "cracking up" over the holidays, please, consult your doctor.

Sometimes it's okay if the only thing you did today was breathe.

— Anon.

Count Your Lucky Stars

Sitting down with pencil and paper, if need be, and listing the things for which you are grateful and happy can be a good mood-booster. Sure, things may be tough, but there's always some sliver of hope or good fortune somewhere in the mix.

And remember: it only comes once a year, and it's done and over with. Find your piece of peace, and enjoy what you can of the holidays. Blow off anything that you find upsetting.

The struggle begins to end when gratitude begins.

— Neale Donald Walsh
Have a piece of peace
Have a piece of peace | Source

© 2018 Liz Elias


Submit a Comment
  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    18 months ago from Oakley, CA

    Thank you, Liz, I appreciate your input. You are correct, but this applies regardless of the particular celebration. ;-)

  • Eurofile profile image

    Liz Westwood 

    18 months ago from UK

    Your article makes a very valid point. Christmas is tough for many people. It can also be a time of stress and family arguments, when the goodwill wears a little thin in many households. We have wandered a long way from the original Christmas story.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    18 months ago from Oakley, CA

    Thank you very much, Bill, and the same to you and yours!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    18 months ago from Olympia, WA

    Wishing for you love and peace this holiday season, Liz! thank you for your friendship!


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)