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The holidays are filled with traditions, memories, and joy. But even wonderful moments can create stress, especially when we’re hosting events, rushing from place to place, doing extra shopping, and working to make moments perfect. It’s also a time we can feel disconnected from friends and family or struggle in general with the season. If you’re feeling the holiday blues, read below for the answers to some of the most common mental health questions people have.

  • Is it normal to feel sad, lonely, or stressed during the holidays?

During the holidays, we can look around at everyone filled with cheer, celebrating the season, and think there’s something wrong with us if we don’t feel the same. But this is totally normal. And you could be feeling this way for many reasons, including:

  • Expectations. You might feel pressure to have the “picture-perfect” holiday, but this can lead to unnecessary stress. Examine where this is coming from. Are you feeling this way because you want your kids or family to have the best holiday season? Are there external factors, like people in your life, who expect you to do everything to create the magic of the season?
  • Isolation and loneliness. You might not be able to be with the people you love, and this loneliness can feel greater during this time of year. And sometimes, we can feel alone even when we’re around other people or in a group of people, including friends and family. This is different than isolation but can still cause negative feelings.
  • Money. Sometimes we feel that we have to buy happiness with gifts or by making big holiday feasts. And it can be hard with kids because you want to give them the perfect gifts and create magical memories. This added financial stress can make the holidays even more tense. It’s important to remember that you can’t buy love or happiness. The true magic is in spending time together. Try setting expectations early and be open and honest that some gifts on their wish list might be out of your (or the magical gift-giver’s) budget this year. Find ways to spend time and build traditions together that cost less, like looking at holiday lights, creating your own holiday decorations, making family recipes together, and watching movies. If you and loved ones are expected to exchange gifts, talk about a price limit ahead of time that you’re all comfortable with, or consider creating gifts for each other that are meaningful and cost less. You can also try a gift exchange (like Secret Santa or white elephant gift exchange) so you’re only buying a gift for one person instead of the entire group.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder. You could be one of the estimated 6% of the U.S. population to have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).1 But even if you don’t have SAD, the shorter days can throw us off our game and make us feel less like ourselves. Vitamin D and sunlamps can help supplement the sun during this time of year when it’s harder to get light. Talk with your doctor about whether taking Vitamin D would be helpful for you.
  • Extra sweets. Indulging in sweets is normal this time of year, but sometimes, when we eat too much sugar, we don’t feel like ourselves. In fact, extra sugar consumption is linked to lower moods.2 Sometimes, the short-term “up” feeling from sugar can lower the mood, especially the more we consume. Plus, it’s easy to feel guilty. But did you know feeling shame or guilt about what we’re eating can actually lead to more overeating?3 Try to have self-compassion, understand that it’s okay if you ate more than felt good, and move forward with acceptance. It can also be harder if you’re managing chronic conditions, like diabetes, since eating too much sugar can complicate conditions. Just remember, balance is key. Here are some other ways to care for your well-being:
    • Prioritizing fruits, vegetables, and protein. Try filling up on those before eating sweets.
    • Going for a walk. Walking is a great way to help lower blood sugar.4
    • Taking mindfulness breaks. If we’re feeling extra stressed during the day, we might eat more than we plan to.
    • Building self-compassion. Being kind to ourselves for over-eating can help stop emotional eating. Try a few minutes of meditation or prayer.


  • What can I do to make the stress of holiday responsibilities easier?

Just because you’re hosting the holiday event or usually wrap all the presents doesn’t mean you have to do it all. It’s ok to ask for help or find ways to make it simpler. Like making the holiday meal a potluck or ordering dinner and asking people to chip in. You can also ask friends or family to bring games that unite everyone. You deserve to enjoy the holiday and create new memories and traditions by spending time with the people you love.


  • How can I avoid feeling overwhelmed by friends and family gatherings and the potential for conflict?

You could feel this way for a variety of reasons. Maybe you’ve had disagreements with friends or family in the past, or there are painful memories that may surface. Or it could be that you’ve had a busy, stressful year (or two or three), and you need rest and downtime. This is all normal. And it’s okay to decline or limit the number of events you attend. It’s also okay to only attend events or gatherings for a brief period. Some years, more down time can help us enjoy the holiday more, and that’s okay.

If you do go to some events, try to withhold judgment, and not take comments or behaviors from the people who “press your buttons” too seriously. When we practice not taking things personally (no matter how hard that can be!), we start to build more emotional resilience. We can’t control what others do or say, but we can control our reactions to them. The more we practice, the easier this gets!


  • The things that once made me happy no longer do. What should I do?

If you’ve gone through a lot of chronic stress or trauma (like living through a pandemic), not enjoying the things that once brought you joy during this time of year (like certain songs, movies, or meals) is a normal response. It takes time to get your joy back. And you might find that when you heal, the things that once brought you joy no longer do. Practice finding new things that bring you joy, like listening to a new style of music, reading different types of books or watching new shows. You can also look for new hobbies, like cycling, pottery, cooking, or gardening.


  • How can I enjoy the holiday season if I’m not with my loved ones?

There are many reasons you might be separated or isolated from your friends and family during the holidays, and there are so many triggers that can make this loneliness worse. Here are some things you can try if you’re isolated this holiday season:  

  • Create your own traditions. Traditions can help us connect to our past, but when those events remind us of painful experiences, sometimes it’s better to start new traditions. Whether that’s as simple as watching a movie and making a favorite treat, or as involved as traveling — start something new that feels good and that you can do each year to build a happy holiday spirit.
  • Build a support system. Remember, families come in many forms. Family isn’t always just who we’re related too. We can build new families through community, and your chosen family can become an important support in your life, especially during the holidays.     
  • Volunteer. Helping others can help us feel connected to other people, especially to those who also feel lonely this time of year, like seniors.  
  • Reach out. Text or call a friend (old or new). Letting people in our lives know how much they mean to us can strengthen connections and help us feel less lonely.


  • What are some things I can do to cope with the general stress that comes with holidays?
    • Practice kindness. Simple acts of kindness add up to big change, not only for the people around you, but also for yourself. Did you know when you practice kindness, it can help lower blood pressure and cortisol, while also building resiliency and self-esteem?5 It can be as simple as letting someone else go ahead of you in line or checking on a neighbor who lives alone.
    • Build a gratitude attitude. It can be easy to focus on what you don't have instead of what you do have, especially during the holidays. Make a point to celebrate the good things in your life. Reach out to the people who mean the most to you and remind them how much you value them and their support. A gratitude attitude builds the more we practice it, and there’s no better time to start than right now. If it feels right, take a moment right now and think of three things you’re grateful for. (It can even be as simple as your morning coffee or a funny animal video.)
    • Take small steps for self-care. Try taking micro-breaks during the day. A long, slow shower can be a relaxing way to start or end the day. Or use part of your lunch break for a short walk and grab a healthy piece of fruit or a smoothie — you’ll get an energy boost while clocking some steps. You can even schedule self-care breaks, like you would a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, so you won’t forget to walk, meditate, take a lunch break, or feed your social needs by connecting with a friend. 
    • Get those Zzzzs. Sleep can have a major influence on our mood, so it’s important to keep regular sleep patterns and try to get 8 hours a night.


  • Is there anything else I can do to help improve how I feel?

Sadness is also a normal emotion, but if you think this sadness is interfering with your ability to function day-to-day, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your doctor. Don’t be scared to bring up your mental health with your doctor. They can work with you to develop a treatment plan to help you feel your best. Or your doctor can recommend a therapist or specialist to help.

  • If talking to someone feels overwhelming, start with meQuilibrium* — an online mental well-being program designed to help you face each day with confidence. By using meQuilibrium, you can build resilience, learn ways to combat stress, find out your stress score, and learn your stress triggers. It’s available at no extra cost with most health plans. Look for meQuilibrium in the Find & Get Care section of your member account on
  • If a Florida Blue care manager is helping you with your health needs, feel free to reach out to them for information on mental health support. With the BlueForMe app,** you can do it through your smart device.
  • You can also turn to our community specialists at our Florida Blue Centers. You can ask questions, get help finding a doctor or finding resources in your community whether you are a Florida Blue member or not. Our centers also offer webinars and classes on topics like mental health, at no extra cost. Visit your local center or call 1-877-352-5830, or learn more at

You can also check out these extra resources to help you build resiliency and navigate the stressful holiday season.

If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. If you don’t know what to do or who to call, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.





1National Library of Medicine. "Seasonal Affective Disorder"

2National Library of Medicine. "Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study"

3National Library of Medicine. "Self-compassion and reactions to unpleasant self-relevant events: the implications of treating oneself kindly"

4American Diabetes Association. "The Benefits of Walking"

5Mayo Clinic Health System. "The art of kindness"

*meQuilibrium is an independent company contracted by Florida Blue to provide health and wellness services and resources to members. This benefit is available to Florida Blue members age 18 and older.  Eligibility is limited to members with an individual or family plan, an individual or family ACA plan and members with coverage from their fully insured group employer health plan.

**Florida Blue has entered into an arrangement with Wellframe to provide members with care decision support services, information and other services. All decisions that require or pertain to independent professional medical/clinical judgement or training, or the need for medical services, are solely the member’s responsibility and the responsibility of their physicians and other health care providers. Wellframe is an independent company that provides online services to Florida Blue members through the BlueforMe app.

988 is the call number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, an independent company offering mental health counselling via phone call or text.  


112640 1122


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