What You Need to Know - Holiday Blues - zwavelstreamclinic.co.za
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What You Need to Know About Holiday Blues


Generally, the holidays are known as a time of joy and celebrations

However, waiting for the holidays can become stressful for some people. Feeling stressed out during the holidays is often referred to as “holiday blues”. The holiday blues is usually a short-lived feeling of anxiety, stress, sadness, loneliness and depression.

There could be various reasons that cause holiday depression, which we will discuss further below. Even the people who enjoy the holidays may experience the holiday blues. This is because it’s usually a time of high demands and emotions, leaving a person uncertain about what they should do or how to celebrate the holidays.

Even though the holiday season should be merry, stress can trigger the holiday blues for most people. It can be due to work-life stress or overindulging in unhealthy foods and drinks. As mentioned, there are several causes for holiday blues. Let’s look at the five most common causes.

5 Common causes of holiday blues

Many causes can trigger the holiday blues, but the most common causes of this could be any of the following:

Keeping holiday traditions

Surrounding the holidays may come with many expectations associated with social gatherings with family or friends and traditions. The expectations of such activities and satisfying everyone’s demands may cause anxiety in most people.

Facing family pressure

The holidays can become stressful if you are a family-orientated person who usually spends time with family members. The stress can be caused by juggling multiple demands or commitments and sticking to holiday traditions.


Most people may experience depression in a seasonal pattern, known as a seasonal affective disorder (SAD). People who have SAD may feel lonely, unhappy or depressed for a short time that comes in certain seasons such as winter.

Financial problems

The holidays are a great time to shop for gifts you’d like to give your loved ones. However, it’s also a time when you may experience concerns about your finances. Suppose you’ve already spent a large sum of your finances at the beginning of the month. Due to this, you may experience financial stress throughout the holidays. 

Facing social preasure

Most people over-commit to plans with friends or family for the holidays. By over-committing to plans with your social circle and there after failing to meet those plans can make you feel a heavy amount of pressure.

Also, having unrealistic expectations, such as everything being merry 24/7 for the holidays, will lead to feeling additional stress or anxiety during the holiday season.

Most people over-commit to plans with friends or family for the holidays. By over-committing to plans with your social circle and there after failing to meet those plans can make you feel a heavy amount of pressure.

Also, having unrealistic expectations, such as everything being merry 24/7 for the holidays, will lead to feeling additional stress or anxiety during the holiday season.

Signs of holiday blues

- Changes in weight

- Appetite loss or gain

- Constantly stressed or worried

- Increased anxiety

- Negative thinking

- Difficulty concentrating

- Insufficient sleep/oversleeping

- Feelings of irritability and loneliness

- Self-isolation

- Disinterest in things enjoyed

- A sense of loss

Now that you are aware of the signs of the holiday blues, you can take action to manage them. You can cope and manage the signs of holiday depression by taking small steps. Here are a few suggestions to start with:

Prioritise your plans

Try to manage your time and not do too much at once. Prioritise your time and activities by making day-to-day schedules or plans. Doing this will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks and demands from others during the holidays. Also, it’s okay to say no to plans that don’t fit into your schedule or make you feel joyful.

Be kind to yourself

Put your physical and mental health needs first. Be honest and true to your needs this holiday season. Pay attention to what triggers your stress and depression, does gift shopping stress you out? What’s making you feel agitated? Recognising the triggers for your holiday blues can help you take steps to avoid or manage them.

Set realistic expectations

Most times, people create expectations of perfection and compare themselves to other families or friends. Set realistic and reachable expectations for yourself and others by sharing responsibilities and planning, which will help decrease stress and anxiety.

Get enough sleep

It’s important to get good quality sleep and to find relaxing activities. Most people who feel depressed struggle with either getting too much or too little sleep. If you struggle to sleep, try doing a light stretch before climbing into bed and avoid using technology before bedtime to stimulate sleep.

Also, try to be more active by walking or doing something you like to avoid sleeping too much.

Practice self-care

Taking time to practise self-care for your mental health is very important during the holidays. Do an activity that relaxes you, such as meditation or drawing, which increases your awareness of the present moment. Doing such will help to decrease the levels of stress.

Avoid isolation

Avoid isolating yourself from family or friends. Balance your needs by reaching out to loved ones. Seeking support from people close to you can help reduce feelings of depression and loneliness during the holiday season.

Set boundaries

Set healthy boundaries for yourself and learn to say ‘no’ to certain demands or responsibilities that may drain you. Instead, learn to say ‘yes’ to the things that inspire and nurture your mental well-being, which can boost your moods and positivity.

Put differences aside

When gathering with family members during the holidays, some may not share the same values or opinions as you do. This can become a challenge but try to set your differences aside and avoid topics that may not be agreed upon to avoid feelings of distress and anxiety.

Set a budget

Financial stress during the holidays can contribute to feelings of depression. You can decrease financial stressors by creating and sticking to a budget. Try simplifying gift-buying and giving too much and communicate your struggles with your family ahead of time.

Moderate food and drinks

Parties and festive feasts usually challenge eating habits at every turn during the holidays. Try to maintain a healthy diet through it all. Limiting excessive drinking and eating will help to stabilise your moods and decrease the levels of depression. 

Seek help

If you’re still feeling the holiday blues even after the holidays have passed, you should speak to a professional. A mental health professional can help determine the cause and help you find ways to cope with them healthily.

Following the tips above may help you but taking it one step at a time is the best way to cope with the holiday blues. Also, if you ever feel that you need to speak to a professional, the Zwaverstream Clinic team is here to help you. Below are a few services that we provide to help with coping and managing the holiday blues:

Stress treatment

You can manage your stress by taking certain steps. It’s advisable not to let mental health stigma discourage you from seeking help. Symptoms may initially appear mild, but if ignored, they can escalate quickly and make treatment more difficult. The first step towards getting the help you need is to speak with one of our professionals.

Depression treatment

Reaching out to mental health specialists can help you treat depression. The ZwavelStream depression treatment centre provides patients with a safe, healthy environment in which they can regain their balance in life.

To help you on your journey to wellness, we offer therapy, medication, and highly skilled staff. We treat all our cases with confidentiality and tailor treatment plans to the needs of every patient.

Anxiety treatment

The earlier you treat anxiety, it’s less likely that your condition will worsen. Seeking help can prevent mental health problems from escalating. Mental health has a stigma attached to it, causing many to be afraid to speak up for fear of being judged.

There’s a possibility that even mild cases can quickly escalate into something more serious. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consult a professional as soon as you notice anything that may be wrong.


Even though the holidays are the “season of giving”, it’s important for you to focus on taking care of your mental health. To have a fulfilling, happy and healthy festive season, putting yourself first and setting boundaries is vital regarding social commitments and demands.

Suppose you feel that you need professional help to cope with the holiday blues. In that case, our team at Zwaverstream is committed to always being there for our patients. Contact us at 010 475 0160 to get started, or connect with us through our website.

With the Christmas spirit rising, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Zwaverstream Clinic team. May it be full of laughter and joy, along with the sounds of jingle bells and the sun shining on you.


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