Depression and the holidays

Winter in Minnesota seems to have appeared overnight. As I type, snow is falling and it’s a frigid 27 degrees here in Roseville, MN. I have nothing against the cold and snow (ahem, ask me again in March) but it seems like a bit much, a bit too early this year. But with this sudden shift in seasons, I’m now full-on thinking about the holidays.

I’m very aware how this is not the most wonderful time of the year for many people, for a variety of reasons. One very common reason is depression. Depression zaps your energy, your mood, your motivation. How then, can we manage depression during the holidays? How can we take care of ourselves when everyone else seems to be decking the halls and fa-la-la-la-la-ing?

Here’s what I’m really asking:

  • How can you feel thankful on Thanksgiving, when everything actually feels terrible?

  • How can you respond when a family member points out your apparent lack of Christmas cheer?

  • How do you play with your little niece or nephew at the family gathering when you have almost zero energy?

  • How can you interact with coworkers at the holiday party when you’d rather be in bed?

  • How can you go about your daily life when the cheerfulness of the holiday season feels grating?


Here’s what you don’t need to do:

  • You don’t need to pretend like everything is okay

  • You don’t need to fake perkiness or cheerfulness

  • You don’t need to attend all the parties, or any of them at all

  • You don’t need to decorate a Christmas tree or put up any decorations at all

  • You don’t need to overspend on gifts, or spend money on gifts at all

  • You don’t need to say yes to all the sugar, carbs, and alcohol

  • You don’t need to prove anything to anyone

Instead, here is what you can choose to do:

  • You can choose to skip traditions that have lost their meaning

  • You can choose not to talk to a certain person at the Thanksgiving table

  • You can choose to go home whenever you’d like

  • You can choose to skip the work holiday party

  • You can choose to spend the holidays with friends instead of family

  • You can choose to deliberately practice gratitude for what you have

  • You can choose to surround yourself with positive influences

Having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit? It could be more than just the shorter days and cold weather. Consider adding mental health counseling to your self-care toolkit this year. Get started today by scheduling your first appointment. Counseling appointments available in Roseville and New Brighton.