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  • Writer's pictureDr. Susanna La

Coping Through The Holidays

Updated: Dec 28, 2022

Does your mood dip during the fall and winter months? Do you find yourself having difficulty getting out of bed and having less energy than usual?

Our mood is impacted by a variety of factors including: increased life and/or work stress, lack of support, and time/seasonal changes. Some people may notice a seasonal pattern to their depressive symptoms that coincide with daylight savings in the fall. This may be due to the change in weather, less opportunities to see sunlight, and/or the holidays. The holidays can be stressful for many people, especially if you are experiencing financial stressors, spending more time with family, and/or having less opportunities for self-care.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during certain times of the year, such as during the fall and winter months (Mayo Clinic, 2021). In addition to general symptoms of depression (you can read about here), seasonal depression symptoms can include:

  • Sleeping more than usual

  • Increase in appetite, especially for carbohydrates, such as rice, bread, and potatoes

  • Weight gain

  • Low energy

  • Social isolation

  • Reduced motivation

  • Difficulty getting out of bed

  • Moving slower

Coping Skills For The Holiday Season

Since the fall/winter months and holidays can be a challenging time for some of us, it is important that we consider different forms of coping to take care of our mental and physical health. Take some time to reflect on coping skills you are already practicing or found helpful in the past. Below are some additional suggestions to supplement your current coping skills:

  • Create a sleep routine

    • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day

    • You may be inclined to keep sleeping, but oversleeping can actually cause us to feel more tired

    • Engage in an activity like taking a shower, changing into your pajamas, or lighting a candle to help signify the start of your bedtime routine

  • Go outside and get some sunlight

    • Being exposed to sunlight for about 30 minutes in the daytime helps to maintain on body’s natural sleep/wake cycle

  • Find your tribe/supports

    • If you are prone to isolation during the fall/winter months or holidays, try to reach out to friends/family

    • You may send a text, make a call, or intentionally set up a time to see each other

  • Set boundaries

    • If you find you are spending too much time with family/friends, you may need some alone time to refuel, especially if you are more introverted

    • You may also want to limit certain topics or conversations you know can be triggering or upsetting

  • Practice self-care (read more here) and stress management (read more here)

    • Do one thing each day to take care of yourself

    • Doing a self-care activity can be a buffer to help you get through difficult times

  • Seek help through licensed mental health professional(s)

    • You may consider reaching for psychotherapy and/or psychiatric medications

There may be certain times of the year when we are struggling more. During these times, it’s important to remember we are not alone. Feel free to try some of the tips suggested. If you are interested, you can also reach out to us by clicking here to engage in mental health services.

Stay tuned. The next topic is "New Year's Resolutions."

Written by Susanna La, Ph.D.

Edited by Elena Duong, Psy.D.


Mayo Clinic (2021). Seasonal Affective Disorder.

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