How to Improve Your Holiday Season (Even if You're Not in the Holiday Spirit)

By Erica Cramer, LMSW

The holidays mean different things to different people.  For some, it is a time of luxury gifts and exotic vacations.  For others, it is a time of loneliness and despair.  When you feel depressed, it’s hard to enjoy the holidays as much as a Hallmark card would want. Here are simple ways to improve your holiday season even if you are not in the holiday spirit:

Be grateful.  Everyone has a few things in their life that for which they are grateful. Write them down and put them in a place that you look at every day.  When you are feeling sad and as though nothing in your life is going right, look at that list and think of what you are going to add to it in the upcoming year.

Make resolutions.  Reflect on the previous year.  Examine what went well and what did not go so well.  Think of what made you happy and not so happy.  Think of what you would like to do more of and what you would like to do less of.  Based upon your analysis, make resolutions to improve your life in whatever ways you feel necessary.  The more realistic your resolutions are the better.  

Extend yourself.  You would be surprised by how many people don’t have places to go during the holidays.  Extend yourself to others during this joyous season.  Invite someone who is going to be alone to celebrate with you or smile at a stranger on the street.  Regardless of how small or large the gesture, it may make a big difference in someone’s life and could help improve the quality of their holiday.

Identify triggers.  For some people the holidays are an extremely difficult time.  It may be a time when you think about the family you wish you had or the lack of progress you have made over the past year.  Think about occurrences, dates, or people that bring up difficult feelings and prepare to handle these challenges to the best of your ability ahead of time.

 Maintain boundaries.  The holiday time can be an exciting time and people can lose sight of what is in their best interest the rest of the year.  How much money you spend on gifts can be one way your boundaries can be tested during the holiday season.  Just because it is the holidays does not mean your bank account must suffer.  Make decisions that are right for you.  After all, the most important thing is that a gift is thoughtful.  

Erica Cramer is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you want support preparing for the holidays or prioritizing self-care, visit to see how therapy can help.