The festive holidays can be difficult for some people for several reasons, and you don’t already have to have issues with mental health for that to happen. The Christmas and New Year‘s celebrations are all about getting together, buying gifts, eating lots, and having a good time, but that isn’t always the case for everyone. Thus, festive depression can be an issue.
What Is Festive Depression?
Some might call festive depression Christmas depression, but it doesn’t start and end with Christmas. Depression at this time of year will also come into play for New Year celebrations as well, hence, festive depression. Therefore, festive depression is the state of depression that can develop on the run up to, and during, the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. But, may not be fully expressed until after the festive celebrations are over.
Furthermore, rather than Christmas day being the day when people are more likely to feel suicidal, it’s actually New Year that poses the most risk (Hofstra et al., 2018). That means festive depression can often lead to a spike in suicide during January, rather than over the Christmas period. That’s likely due to realising you might have to live through another year like the last one, if you’ve been struggling. Or as a rebound to that bolstered sprit of togetherness over the festive holidays. The Christmas festivities, such as being able to attend an office Christmas party, likely offer some protection over Christmas, which may run out by the New Year.
A Selection Of Factors That Can Cause Festive Depression
People not accepting you
Although progress has been made and people are less ignorant, there are still far too many people with views that will stop people from being accepted. For example, people from the LGBTIQ+ community often still have to deal with being ostracised after coming out.
The relentless message of Christmas is that everyone is having a merry old time. This message can make you feel festive depression because you can feel like something is wrong with you or that you’ve failed if you’re not happy at Christmas.
The perfect Christmas
The stress of trying to make the holidays perfect, getting the must have gifts for the children, making sure Christmas dinner goes off without a hitch, etc. can all add to festive depression, anxiety, and stress.
The reality is, for many people, the festive holiday is something to be endured rather than enjoyed. I know for me, I’m really not fussed about Christmas and I’m happy to spend it alone, so I don’t have to worry about the stress that comes with trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone.
The temptations that come with the festive holidays puts those in recovery at risk, and thus can be a source of festive depression, anxiety, and stress. The festive period has office parties that will have alcohol. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day have alcohol involved as well, and then there’s New Year‘s Eve. New Year‘s Eve is often the biggest piss-up of the lot. It’s a very tempting time of year.
For some people they might not be able to spend the festive season with family and friends, for whatever reason. At other times of the year, this isolation might not really be noticed, but at Christmas, it’s all about getting together and being around your loved ones. This expectation of being with your loved ones at Christmas can amplify the feelings of being lonely.
Knowing that other people might spend the festive period with their loved ones and watching films and TV shows of people with their loved ones can sting when you’re feeling alone. Thus, you can feel extra lonely when this happens, which can cause the development of festive depression.
It can also be depressing to be around other people with their families if you don’t have a family of your own. Much like a third wheel on a date, you can feel like the odd one out around the dinner table if everyone else is with their partner(s) and children.
20 Tips For Coping With Festive Depression
- Check what charities and organisations are doing in your local area to help people avoid feeling lonely over the festive holidays.
- Make new friends through Meetup. Here you can join groups and find events and activities you can join, or even create your own. Meetup also has a post about how you can make friends as an adult, which you also might find useful. Click here to check it out.
- You could also offer your time as a volunteer to help over the festive holiday. Homeless organisations often put on special Christmas dinner events for the homeless and are often in need of some extra hands.
- Set realistic expectations of your festive holiday so you don’t end up with festive depression.
- To avoid stress, make a list of the things you need to get sorted and arrange it in order of importance and priority. Remove anything that just isn’t important. No point getting festive depression over something you don’t need to do.
- If you’re in recovery, make sure you have a plan for how to handle the Christmas and New Year‘s Eve temptations.
- Also, if you’re in recovery, find out which Christmas staples contain alcohol so you can avoid them.
- Make time for yourself and self-care.
- Contact old friends and co-workers.
- Create a budget, so you don’t end up spending more money than you can afford, resulting in you fearing opening a letter asking for that money.
- Acknowledge your feelings, it’s ok to feel down with festive depression. Just don’t let it overwhelm you.
- Seek professional support, that’s what they’re there for.
- Create or buy gifts to give to those in need.
- Don’t abandon your healthy habits.
- Don’t let intrusive thoughts ruin your festive holidays. For more information on how you can tackle intrusive thoughts, click here.
- Celebrate the festive holidays in your own way. There’s no rule that you have to spend it with family and friends. I know I didn’t, throughout my twenties and early thirties. Instead, I made Christmas a special day for myself to enjoy alone. Being alone doesn’t mean being lonely. I was thankful to have time on my own.
- Don’t try to please everyone like a people-pleasing machine.
- Join or volunteer for Re-engage, which is a charity dedicated to helping older people from feeling lonely, offering regular tea parties and call a companion service.
- Find ways to keep yourself occupied to help keep the festive depression at bay, such as taking tours around your city and visiting the galleries and museums.
- If you’re lonely, use social media to connect and talk with people, rather than doomscrolling your way through other people’s happy festive news.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with festive depression in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget to bookmark my site and if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, you can make a donation of any size below. Until next time,
Unwanted Life readers.
Hofstra, E., Elfeddali, I., Bakker, M., de Jong, J. J., Van Nieuwenhuizen, C., & van der Feltz-Cornelis, C. M. (2018). Springtime peaks and Christmas troughs: A national longitudinal population-based study into suicide incidence time trends in the Netherlands. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 45. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00045 and https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00045/full.