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Why Am I Depressed At Christmas?

Why Am I Depressed Over Christmas?

Holiday Depression

My birthday and Christmas have always been hard times for me. Even as a kid I would approach these days with excitement only to feel overwhelmed with sadness on those days. This year on my birthday was no different; I had some fun plans made, and my wife and kids were excited to celebrate with me. Still, one thing didn’t go as planned and then I had a hard time bouncing back. What is it about these days that make it so hard for me?

Many people have noticed this phenomenon called holiday depression, and while I have seen some good advice to how to cope, there was not much on why it exists other than the stress of the season. Although I do believe that can play into it, I don’t believe that has been what I have experienced. And without knowing why you’re feeling down, you will have a hard time coming out of it.

Here are 5 possible reasons someone may be depressed over Christmas:

  1. Loneliness and Isolation: Not everyone has a strong support system or close relationships, and the emphasis on togetherness during the holiday season can amplify feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  2. Unrealistic Expectations: Christmas is often associated with joy, warmth, and festivities. Unrealistic expectations about creating the perfect holiday experience, along with societal pressure to be happy, can lead to disappointment and increased stress.
  3. Financial Strain: The financial demands of gift-giving, hosting gatherings, and other holiday-related expenses can cause stress and anxiety. For individuals facing financial difficulties, the pressure to spend during the holidays may contribute to depressive feelings.
  4. Grief and Loss: For those who have lost a loved one, Christmas can be a painful reminder of their absence. Coping with grief during a time that is traditionally focused on family and celebration can intensify feelings of sadness.
  5. Family Conflict: Not all family dynamics are positive, and spending extended time with relatives can sometimes lead to conflict. Family-related stressors, unresolved issues, or strained relationships can contribute to feelings of depression.

Why Am I Depressed At Christmas?

For me, the issue lies in that in the unrealistic expectations: I think this time of year will validate me somehow. During this time of thinking of others, maybe someone will think about me in such a way that I will feel significant and valued. It is reminiscent of Charlie Brown hoping to get a Valentine’s Day card. He spends all year thinking nobody likes him, and on Valentine’s Day he thinks that it will all change by receiving a card from the little red haired girl.

Do I spend all year thinking that I am unimportant and have little value? As a kid I definitely felt this way. I’ve gotten better, but there are still times this feels true. I struggle with feeling like I don’t belong. Christmas is a time for family, which validates your belonging.

Here are some questions to help you get to the root of your Christmas depression:

  1. Are you trying to let your interactions this Christmas validate who you are?
  2. Are you struggling with belonging? Do you feel that nobody cares for you?
  3. Do you not like the family you belong to?
  4. Do you think that everyone else is happy while you are sad?

Knowing where you are in these questions will help you find a way out of your depression.

Finding what you need to get through the holiday season can involve both mindset and practical strategies. Here are several suggestions to help someone navigate the season.

4 Mindset Strategies to Help You With Christmas Depression:

1. Only God has the right to tell you who you are.

If you are trying to let Christmas validate you, spend more time communicating with God. Read the Father’s Love Letter and ask God which phrase you have a hard time believing. Meditate on that phrase and ask God how that can be true.

2. Being alone is always difficult.

Being in groups of people and feeling alone can be even more difficult. Make plans with people who give you life. You may not be able to avoid all hard gatherings, but plan to mix in a few moments with people who speak life into you. If you don’t have those people, make this your number one priority. God said it was not good for man to be alone and isolation is one of the main tactics of the enemy. The body is God’s gift to you. Use it.

3. Try to be grateful for your family.

So many people are running from where they came from. They hate who they are and their family is a constant reminder of what they hate. You will never be good with yourself until you are good with your family. Your family is a gauge of your maturity. People can’t make you fell mad, angry or upset. They only bring out what is already there. Try to be grateful for the family you do have and the good things they have given you. If you are having trouble, call friends that give life to you. Spend some time in worship. You can do all things in Christ. You can do this.

4. You are not alone.

As I mentioned, one of the enemy’s key tactics is isolation. If you feel you are the only one who is having a hard time, you will feel distant from others and isolate yourself. Christmas can be a fun time, but it is not perfect. There are other people who are struggling. At the same time the pain can be good. God is revealing areas where He wants to give you greater freedom. Get a friend to pray with you about what is really going on in your heart. God wants to help.

There are tons of suggestions out there. Find what works for you.

Here are 5 more practical suggestions that I feel are helpful:

  1. Focus on self-care:
    • Choose to have fun.
    • Exercise.
    • Be willing to see a counselor.
  2. Acknowledge and Validate Feelings:
    • Talk to others about what is going on with you.
    • Journal your thoughts and feelings with God.
    • Tell God what you wish could happen.
  3. Spend Time with Others:
    • Be with friends.
    • Eat meals with others.
    • Find people watching movies together.
    • Have a time of sharing what you like about each other.
  4. Offer Alternatives to Traditional Celebrations:
    • Create a tradition that is meaningful to you.
    • Find a way to do something nice to others.
    • Give to others in need.
  5. Focus on What Is Good:
    • Actively thank God for things.
    • Ask God what He thinks of you and listen.

Remember that everyone is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to approach the yourself with empathy, understanding, and a willingness to adapt your solution based on the day. Whatever you are going through, know that God cares for you..

If you are still feeling depressed or know of something for which you would like prayer, leave a prayer request in the comments below. I'll love to pray for you.

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