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Simple Ways to Manage Your Mental Health During the Holidays

The holiday season, often associated with joy and merriment, can unfortunately bring about stress, anxiety, and challenges to mental well-being for many individuals. People often grapple with questions and concerns during therapy sessions, such as feeling left out during festive gatherings or struggling to enjoy what should be the happiest time of the year. The pressure to conform to societal expectations of celebration, overspending, and projecting happiness can contribute to this love-hate relationship with the holidays.

One of the best ways to help get past the holiday stress is to get enough sunlight. Sunlight exposure plays a significant role in influencing our mood and energy levels. Maintaining a positive mindset can be challenging, particularly during the colder and gloomier months associated with holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Lack of sunlight exposure can lead to feelings of lethargy and low mood. Research by Satoshi Kanazawa suggests that higher annual sunshine hours in a region correlate with increased levels of happiness. If you find yourself feeling low and lethargic, consider the following solutions:

How to manage mental health during holidays:
Plan the Partying:

The obligations and social pressures during the festive season can lead to unwanted stress and exposure to triggers. Smart preparation is key to navigating through the holidays smoothly. Consider making a pre-holiday checklist and sticking to the plan for a seamless and stress-free holiday.

Declining unwanted events:

Learn to say “no” to gatherings that may exacerbate personal challenges, such as those involving substance use. Opt for alternatives like hosting a smaller, more intimate gathering or spending time alone doing activities that bring you joy.

Setting a budget:

Plan your expenses ahead of time to avoid financial strain during the holiday season. Discussing and establishing a budget with a trusted person can help manage spending during this typically expensive time.


Seeking support from a psychologist/therapist before and after the holidays can be transformative for those associating the season with grief, anxiety, or emotional struggles. Therapy can aid in breaking negative associations and building new, positive holiday memories.

Light therapy:

While natural sunlight exposure may be limited, artificial light exposure can be controlled. Light therapy has shown promise in alleviating symptoms of seasonal depression. Spend time outdoors, open curtains, and avoid prolonged periods in dimly lit spaces.


If other approaches prove insufficient, consulting with a therapist about medication options may be beneficial. Certain medications can help manage neurotransmitter imbalances, such as serotonin, caused by reduced sunlight exposure.

Reclaiming the holidays for yourself is essential, especially if the season brings challenges to your mental well-being. Define what celebration means to you, and take steps to prioritize your mental health during this time. It is difficult to go through life thinking everyone else is happy when you are not, but it’s even worse during the holidays. Define what a celebration means to you so you can reclaim the holidays for yourself.

At Scarborough Psychology Clinic, one can find highly trained, licensed, and experienced therapists and psychologists who are trained in CBT and other therapy approaches. You can contact us and schedule an appointment with one of our clinicians. We offer both in-person and virtual appointments. Book Appointment.