Finding hope and happiness: How to cope with holiday depression

The MIND 24-7 Team | November 17, 2023

The holiday season is a special time of year. There are festive decorations, celebrations, and many opportunities to connect with friends and family. Even amidst all the merriment, the season can spark difficult emotions. The increased pressures and expectations of the season can make symptoms worse for those living with clinical depression and can cause feelings of stress, loneliness, and sadness in those who are not depressed. Fortunately, there are several coping strategies that can help people feel better. In this guide, we discuss the importance of hope and optimism in the face of depression. We also explore strategies, coping mechanisms, and resources to help find joy and meaning during this season.

Why stay hopeful in the face of holiday depression?

It can be hard to be positive when faced with the holiday blues. It is also important to know that feeling down is okay, and it can be meaningful to acknowledge difficult emotions. But even in the face of holiday depression, hope and optimism can be found. In the world of mental health, hope and optimism are a power couple. Hopeful thinking helps people find solutions and put energy towards meeting goals. In people with depression, hopeful thinking can lessen feelings of sadness, improve well-being, and build resilience. Optimism helps people navigate challenges in healthier ways and is also associated with better cardiovascular health.

Holiday depression testimonials

If you or a loved one are suffering from holiday depression, know that you are not alone. Many people with clinical depression, and even many who do not have clinical depression, face holiday depression every year. The good news is that holiday depression can be managed. Here are two personal stories and testimonials from individuals who have successfully coped with depression during the holidays:

Sarah’s Story

For years, the holiday season would force Sarah into a downward spiral. The sound of Christmas music and festive decorations reminded her of loneliness and grief over friends and family she has lost throughout the years. When her first grandchild was born, Sarah suddenly felt determined to overcome her holiday depression. She sought support from friends and a therapist, who helped her address her grief and sadness. With their guidance, Sarah learned ways to honor the relationships she had in the past and find joy in new experiences. Now, Sarah looks forward to sharing the holidays with her grandchild.

“The holidays used to be the loneliest time for me. I was filled with sadness longing for dear friends and family members who have passed away. With the help of a friend and a therapist, I have learned to cope with my grief and find new and joyful holiday experiences.” – Sarah. 

Antone’s Story

Growing up, Antone loved the holidays with his family. But the first year after college was different. The recent divorce of his parents and the financial strain of living on his own changed how he felt about the season. He suddenly felt overwhelmed and stressed during a time he used to love. In search of an escape from the family drama, Antone decided to volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Through this, he found a sense of belonging that gave him hope for his family’s future. Although things were difficult, he was able to return to the family gathering with a brighter spirit. 

“When I found myself hating the holidays, I decided to try something new and give back. Volunteering at the soup kitchen really put my struggles into perspective. I served some food, made some new friends, and gained some hope along the way.” – Antone. 

5 holiday depression coping mechanisms and strategies

Here are a few strategies and coping mechanisms for finding joy and meaning during this season.

  1. Keep a gratitude journal – Write down things you are thankful for, however small or large.
  2. Volunteer – Find perspective, community, and fulfillment by helping those in need. 
  3. Get active – Exercise to get endorphins going and naturally boost the mood.  
  4. Engage the senses – Stabilize emotions by doing things that stimulate 1 or more of the 5 senses. For example, cuddle by a crackling fire wrapped in a cozy blanket to activate the sense of touch, smell, and sound.  
  5. Laugh – Laughing lowers stress and alleviates depression. Watch a comedy show, spend time with a funny friend, or catch up on silly memes. 

We’re here to help – 24/7

It is okay to ask for help when you are having a tough time. MIND 24-7 strives to make that easy. We provide walk-in, emergency, and ongoing care to all adults and children, regardless of their ability to pay. We currently have several locations in the Phoenix area, open every day of the year, all hours of the day and night, including holidays. 

If you or a loved one needs same-day mental health care, visit one of our convenient locations in the Phoenix area or text/call 1-844-MIND247.