How to Manage the Holiday Blues

Andrea Bustamante, B.A.
December 22, 2023
Photo by at Pexels.


The holiday season is often a time for celebration. However, it can also lead to feelings of anxiety or depression. In a survey, 64% of people said that they were affected by the holiday blues [1]. 

As therapists, you can provide clients with tools and resources to prepare them to mitigate the negative feelings that may arise during the holiday season.

What are the Holiday Blues?

The holiday blues are temporary feelings of anxiety or depression that occur during the holiday season [1]. 

These feelings are caused by holiday-related factors such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations around the holidays [1].
  • Travel stress from crowded airports, delayed flights, and the effects of jet lag [2].
  • Additional expenses. 
  • Discussion of sensitive topics in social gatherings.
  • Changes in diet and increased alcohol consumption [1].
  • Inability to be with friends or family [1].
  • Stress from being around family.

Additionally, the holiday blues can be difficult to manage since most people expect this season to be a time of joy. When people experiencing the holiday blues realize that their feelings do not line up with this expectation, the disconnect can make them feel alone and further increase the effects of the holiday blues [3].

Furthermore, the end of the year can be difficult for many people due to the various holidays that happen in a short period of time. The start of wintertime can also lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is caused by the change of seasons. Feelings of anxiety or depression, therefore, can be felt more strongly if someone is experiencing both SAD and the holiday blues. 

What are Symptoms of the Holiday Blues?

The holiday blues can bring about various symptoms, such as fatigue, tension, frustration, loneliness, isolation, and sadness [1].

For people who are grieving, the holidays can reactivate feelings of sorrow and isolation [4]. People may feel a sense of loss and grief around loved ones that have passed away, feel nostalgic about the past [3], or grieve not being able to spend the holidays with their family and friends. 

With the activities that usually surround the holidays, this time of the year can also trigger social anxiety and financial stress [3] due to the increased number of social gatherings and increased expenses surrounding gifts, decorations, food and drink, and travel. 


Helping Clients Manage the Holiday Blues

Setting holiday budgets [1], creating boundaries around social expectations [3], and engaging in self-care can help manage the holiday blues.

Therapeutic exercises can also help regulate feelings and emotions brought about by the holiday season. As therapists, you can help your clients by introducing them to therapeutic exercises that they can use outside of sessions. These exercises can be practiced during sessions and assigned as therapy homework between sessions. 

With, you can schedule automatic text and email reminders for clients to complete assessments and guided therapeutic exercises between sessions. Tools and resources that can help your clients navigate the holiday seasons, all included in, include:

  • Sleep Log: Tracks client sleep.
  • Thoughts Logs and Socratic Questioning: These exercises help clients identify their thoughts and feelings and determine whether they are helpful or accurate.
  • Deep Breathing and Muscle Relaxation: These exercises can help clients relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress.
  • Social Skills Videos: These exercises help clients maintain conversations with people, be positively assertive, and more.
  • Assessments: Tracks client assessment results and progress. provides a dashboard that allows you to easily review results of therapy homework and assessments.


The holiday blues are temporary, but it is important to take steps to alleviate its negative impact. offers digital therapeutic exercises and resources that streamline therapy and help provide clients with support between sessions. Therapists can create a free account today and help your clients navigate the holiday season!


[1] Greenstein, L. (2015b, November 19). Tips for Managing the Holiday Blues. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from unrealistic%20 expectations%20or,and%20a%20sense%20of%20loss.

[2] HealthPartners. (2023, April 13). Dealing with depression during the holidays. HealthPartners Blog. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from

[3] Wooll, M. (2022, October 31). Managing the Holiday Blues and Staying Socially Connected. BetterUp. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from

[4] Barber, L. (2021, December 23). The special grief of the holiday season. Better Up. Retrieved October 30, 2023, from