The Ultimate Guide for Beating the Holiday Blues

Beat the Holiday Blues

Dear Selfless Esteem,
I have a case of the holiday blues. I’m already dreading Thanksgiving and Christmas. I feel like I don’t have enough energy this year and the holidays bring up bad childhood memories. And my in-laws are good people but celebrating with them is stressful.

Dear Humbug,

The holiday season can be a difficult time of year for various reasons, including the ones you mentioned. Good for you for being proactive and addressing the topic before the holidays are underway. Let’s focus on each point of your letter (low energy, holiday blues, and stress) in an effort to make the season brighter. 🎄

Low Energy

The first thing to do is get a physical exam to check if fatigue is caused or exacerbated by a medical problem. Be sure to report any sleep problems to the doctor; you may be interested in the post, “The Best Ways To Fall Back Asleep” and “5 Things to Get You Out of Bed in the Morning.”

Usually, people overindulge in unhealthy food during the holidays. The problem is that this can make you feel even more sluggish. Eating junk food occasionally in moderation should be okay if you’re in good health, especially if you drink enough water to stay hydrated. See “How Food Affects Your Mood.”

Another cause of low energy is the additional parties and events because socializing requires mental effort. Even extroverts need a break. Thus, it’s important to find a balance between going to gatherings and spending time alone. Know your limits and get sufficient rest. You may be interested in the post, “How To Handle Social Events Better.”

Calendar for Planning Ahead for Christmas

Holiday Blues

You mentioned bad childhood memories associated with Christmas. I recommend discussing them with a competent therapist to start the healing process. See the posts, “What is Wise Counsel and Good Therapy?” and “Why You Need a Therapist ASAP.” You may also be interested in “3 Essential Steps to Heal From Childhood Trauma.”

Pastor Tim Clark of The Church on the Way talks about finding joy amidst suffering during the holidays in his sermon, “Great Joy,” in the “Essential Christmas” series. (See also “Finding Hope in Difficult Times,” “A Bittersweet Christmas Special,” and “Giving Thanks in Hard Times.”) And if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, you may find comfort in creating new traditions to honor and commemorate your loved ones. (See “Coping with the Death of a Loved One” and “Four Crucial Sources of Comfort During the Grieving Process.”)

Regarding your in-laws, you can confidentially express your thoughts and feelings to your therapist, who can help you think of ways to make the celebrations less stressful. One idea is to plan ahead and prepare as much as possible in advance. As a result, you might anticipate the holidays eagerly (more so than “dreading” them). See “19 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas Early” by Unexpectedly Domestic; it even includes a free Christmas budget planner.

Furthermore, “How to Create Low-Stress Holiday Rituals to Simplify Your Life” by Sheenia Denae of Live Love Blossom and the post, “Four Simple Tips for Managing Holiday Stress,” offer good suggestions for reducing stress at this time of year.

Along those same lines, what’s something you can personally look forward to? A favorite seasonal food? Time off from work? For more details on elevating your mood, see the posts, “Want To Stop Feeling Depressed? Here’s How” and “Mending a Broken Heart: 8 Methods to Ease Your Pain.”

a woman's hands holding a mug

As far as what not to do, try to avoid over-imbibing in spiked eggnog, spiced rum, etc. because according to Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., alcohol consumption causes increased stress and decreased mood overall because of changes in neurocircuitry. (See his video “What Alcohol Does to Your Body, Brain and Health” for further explanation.) Instead, try these “Top Christmas Mocktails-Best Festive Drink Recipes” by


Even if you’re ready mentally, emotionally, and financially for the holidays, there’s inevitably some stress involved. It’s not only the most wonderful time of the year, but also, it’s the most hectic.

According to the article, “What Is Your Immune System?” by WebMD, chronic stress can make you more susceptible to catching a cold or the flu. Taking vitamins could boost your immune system but consult with your physician first because unnecessary supplements could be harmful. Either way, think about some healthy ways to reduce stress that have worked for you in the past. For more ideas, see the post, “6 Effective Ways to Manage Stress.”

Most of all, ask God to help you (Philippians 4:6) because He cares about every detail. Remember how the upper room was miraculously prepared for Jesus and His disciples for the Passover and the Festival of the Unleavened Bread? (See Mark 14:12-16.) He may not perform the same miracle of instant provision, but He’s trustworthy to guide you.

In the midst of the festive frenzy, take a moment to reflect on the reason for all the excitement. Doing so makes it all even more exciting. For more details about focusing on God, see the posts, “Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem,” “The Real Truth About God,” and “How To Pray in 5 Simple Steps.” And watch the video of “O Holy Night” feat. Melvin Crispell III & Mav City Gospel Choir; Maverick City Music as a starting point to your meditation on God’s love through Jesus Christ. Happy holidays! 💚❤️

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

This post was originally published on 10/23/22 and has been updated.

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  1. Sheenia Denae | Lifestyle Blogger

    Great post! The holidays can be stressful for me at times as well. And I can relate to the in-laws situation. They’re good people, but the gatherings can be a bit overwhelming at times.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for your comment and for your honesty because it’s so important for all of us to acknowledge which aspects are overwhelming in order to figure out how to reduce stress and make any changes.

  2. TC

    That was really great advice to create new traditions and form new holiday memories on which to meditate. : ) As an introvert, I would also sometimes just give myself a holiday off (after a number of years celebrating every holiday with in-laws) and tell my husband that I need a break and want to spend that particular holiday with just our immediate family only. I would then allow him to communicate our plan to his family, ensuring that they understand we won’t be visiting my family either, so they don’t feel snubbed. : ) Hopefully, anyway-there are some narcissistic folks that will always find a reason to be offended, so you still have to do what is best for your mental and emotional health regardless.

    1. Gina Leggio

      Thanks so much for your comment. Yes, the key is to find a balance so that the holidays aren’t too stressful.

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