Not to sound cliché, but it’s the most wonderful time of the year again. You know what that means! The holidays are upon us. No school, no work. Only meeting up with friends, family, and enjoying time together. What could be better? For many people, the answer is that there really is nothing better.

But for some, “wonderful” does not begin to describe the holiday season. Not even close. Some individuals have named what they feel throughout this time of the year as “holiday depression.”  It is not a clinical diagnosis, merely a very accurate description on how they feel.

These individuals feel down for various reasons. One explanation is the dread of having to face hours with family. During the rest of the year, interaction is kept to a minimum or avoided. But when the holidays come, time together is expected. Sadly, within many families, there is conflict between the members. Your children might not like your cousin’s kids, for example. Or maybe you are not too keen on your mother-in-law. Age conflicts also tend to arise.

For those who are more on the introverted spectrum, the need to socialise with friends and family for increased lengths of time is a draining thought. Festivities cause a great amount of apprehension in those who would prefer to spend time alone than in the company of others. Depression, as well as internal conflict, ensues. On the opposite end, extroverts who are separated from family during the holidays feel isolated or alienated or both. They see everyone but themselves enjoying time with their loved ones, and that is anguishing.

Another reason that you might not look forward to the holidays has to do with how stressed out you are. The holidays put a stopper on everything that was in motion. Since the beginning of the year, you have been rushing around frantically; and now, you feel frozen in place.

Moreover, spiritual souls tend to loathe the commercialisation of the holidays. Becoming part of the plastic norm of the holidays is not easy, and these souls cannot wait for the falsities to end.

Planning and prepping for the holidays also amplifies the stress you feel. In addition to work and family obligations, you now have to shop for gifts, food, and decorate the house. What should be considered fun is thus associated with feelings of haste, anxiety, and fear.

Whatever your reason for “holiday depression,” remember that it’s something akin to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and will dissipate once the holidays have passed.

To help you get through your holiday depression this year and for every other season sure to come, here are some tips:

  1. Plan ahead. Instead of getting in over your head with preparations, calm yourself down by strategising what has to be done and when. For example, buy presents throughout the year.
  2. Embrace the idea that you only need to deal with those people you dislike for one or two days. Unless there is a toxic relationship going on. Then you have grounds to stay away.
  3. Learn to say no. Your mental health is priority. If you get overloaded with responsibilities or are forced into doing something you don’t like, say no.
  4. Eat, sleep, and exercise to beat stress.
  5. When isolated, seek out community activities, like volunteering at a shelter. When dealing with social anxiety, consult a psychologist to talk about it.
  6. Make the holidays yours—whatever that means to you.