It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. But for many, the holiday season is a difficult time filled with unexplained feelings of sadness. This can be exacerbated by the expectation that you’re “supposed to” feel happy this time of year. If you’re feeling down, you’re not alone. Here are some common reasons you may be feeling blue along with some practical tips + solutions for enhancing your mood this Christmas.

Not leaving enough time for self-care. With the hustle and bustle of the season, you may find yourself being so busy attending social gatherings, buying presents, entertaining family + friends that you have no time left to take care of yourself. If you’re sleep-deprived, you can start to feel run-down, sick, unmotivated + dreading holiday events. Don’t forget to make your health a priority, even if it means RSVP-ing ‘no thanks’ to some holiday festivities. The season will be much more enjoyable if you aren’t spending it sick + in bed.

Comparing your life to everyone else’s highlight reel. Being flooded with pictures on social media of how others’ celebrations is a quick + easy way to make you feel inadequate. Just remember; nobody is showing you the real stuff, you’re just seeing the best parts. You have no idea what took place behind the scenes of that perfectly manicured Instagram photo or Christmas card. If you find yourself feeling “less than” after browsing social media, it might be time to take a social media hiatus.

Family Stuff. Expectations run high around Christmas as you try to recapture the magic you felt as a little kid. But things have changed significantly since you were young. Your family has suffered losses, added new members, endured drama + many changes over the years. Things are different. Maybe you’re spending the holidays without your family. Maybe this will be the first Christmas after the passing of a loved one. Maybe you’re facing another holiday of explaining to relatives why you aren’t married or don’t have a job. Be prepared for any intense or uncomfortable emotions that this may bring up for you, and allow yourself to feel these emotions if they come. Talking helps! Find a friend, family member, or professional if you feel like you need some extra support during this time.

Seasonal Depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder is REAL! It’s an actual, diagnosable condition that mimics the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder. It’s cold, it’s dark + we’re all spending way too much time inside. It’s only natural to feel the effects of this. Our Counselors in Virginia Beach recommend spending a little bit of time outside each day. Even 10 minutes a day can have a positive affect on your mood. More good news: after December 21st, the days will (slowly) start getting longer again!

Eating + Drinking Too Much. I’m all about enjoying the festive food + drinks during the holidays. However, consistent overindulgence might result in feelings of guilt or sadness. A hangover is a quick way to zap the holiday cheer out of anyone, so be sure to stay hydrated + drink in moderation. When you do decide to indulge, don’t beat yourself afterwards! Balance is key to a happy holiday season.