Blog: Holiday Blues: Holiday Stress and the Impact on Mental Health
Do you get holiday blues? Holidays are not a relaxing time for everyone. Discover how the presence or absence of family members during holidays can affect mental health.
By Orekogbe Moyosoreoluwa, ESPC Volunteer
Holidays are supposed to be a relaxing time spent with family and friends. However, numerous circumstances and factors can turn it into a source of stress, negatively impacting mental health.
Some individuals, like immigrants and international students, live away from their family and friends. With a holiday from work and school, these people might find themselves alone as everyone else spends time with their families. Depression and loneliness are common experiences for people in this situation as they deal with feelings of alienation (1).
On the flip side, most people can relate to having tense or non-existent relationships with family members. Spending vacations with people with whom you have a tense relationship can create stress and discomfort. During holidays, people are surrounded by media about spending time with family. The difference between reality and promotions can cause disillusionment when a person is discouraged because the holidays were not as relaxing as advertised (2).
Another aspect of holiday stress on mental health for people with non-existent relationships with family members are those dealing with the loss of a loved one. Holidays can be a trigger for people that are grieving the loss of a loved one. Triggers occur when the bereaved feel that they are beginning to have a handle on their grief, but an event occurs and unsettles them (4). There are numerous triggers during the holiday seasons, such as the memories of past holidays spent with past loved ones or sentimental items. During the holidays, people grieving a loved one might become triggered by certain events and become severely depressed.
Additionally, financial strain from holidays can impact mental health (3). Some impoverished families might choose to work during holidays to meet the financial demands of the household. For some holidays, parents might feel pressure to buy certain things to meet societal standards, like Christmas presents. On the other hand, people might not have the opportunity to work during holidays, and with the societal pressure to make certain purchases, people might feel frustrated and discouraged. For those dealing with financial strain during the holidays, the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton is dedicated to providing a festive meal and coordinating Christmas giving to Edmontonians in need.
In Edmonton, these feelings of depression can be aggravated by the weather, specifically the harsh winter during the Christmas holidays. Anyone can experience holiday blues, but it is important to deal with these emotions. If you are experiencing feelings of loneliness and just want to talk to someone, there are “warm lines” for you to do just that: https://wellnesstogether.ca/en-CA/peer-support-warmline (5). Also, if you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis Alberta Health Services provides a Canadian Mental Health Association Distress Line; the service is available 24/7 by calling 1- 888-787-2880 (6).
- Understanding the effects of social isolation on Mental Health. School of Public Health. (2022, September 15). Retrieved November 20, 2022, from https://publichealth.tulane.edu/blog/effects-of-social-isolation-on-mental-health/
- Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Happy holidays? how to “expect” yourself into disillusionment and relationship discord. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/overcoming-anger/200912/happy-holidays-how-expect-yourself-disillusionment-and-relationship
- Farber. (2021, May 25). How the financial stress of the holiday season affects your health. FARBER Debt Solutions. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.afarber.com/blog/how-the-financial-stress-of-the-holiday-season-affects-your-health/
- Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Navigating grief and loss during the Holidays. Psychology Today. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/navigating-grief-and-loss/202210/navigating-grief-and-loss-during-the-holidays
- Valatcmha. (2022, January 20). Five ways to protect your mental health this holiday. CMHA National. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://cmha.ca/five-ways-to-protect-your-mental-health-this-holiday/
- Alberta Health Services. (n.d.). Mental health and wellness resources for the holidays. Alberta Health Services. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/news/releases/2018/Page14821.aspx