holiday happiness if you're feeling down

Are you feeling a little bah humbug this year? Spending most of the year dealing with a pandemic will do that.

You’ve reinvented yourself a hundred times. You have a new sense of fashion with stylish masks and a new vocabulary. Social distancing, pandemic fatigue, and Zoom are now part of the fabric of life.

It’s understandable if it’s challenging to get in the holiday spirit.

You’re isolated, holiday activities are canceled, and it’s hard to continue traditions virtually.

It’s a different kind of holiday stress. Instead of the stress that the holiday hustle and bustle brings, our lives are filled with the stress of all the uncertainty, financial stressors, and overwhelm from all our new roles. Parent. Teacher. Socially distant friend. Virtual coworker. 

Then, there’s grief. The holidays are always a difficult time when a loved one is gone. Add in the complication of COVID-19 losses, numbering in the hundreds of thousands of people, and the grief weighs heavy on hearts. Some families never said goodbye, and others never had a memorial.

No matter how you feel or why you feel that way, do this to turn your outlook around:

  • Recognize your emotions.
  • Name them.
  • Accept them without judgment.
  • Know you’re not alone.
  • If it helps, write down your emotions rather than just thinking about them.
  • If you write down your fears and worries on paper, they’re easier to accept. 
  • Some people even find it cathartic to stick their worries in a jar and put them on a shelf.
  • Recognize the things you can’t change or control. That way, you can lighten the emotional load and also open the door to a path forward.

Finding hope

There is a glimmer of hope this holiday, even though it’s different.

There’s hope that life will return to some “normal” sooner rather than later. But, we’re not there yet, and it’s impossible to ignore the reality of today.

Our actions today will have an impact on what the next holiday season looks like and the effect of this virus in the coming months.

So, how do you find joy?

Take a moment and breathe

 Most of us are overwhelmed. You are not alone in your feelings.

Getting stressed about stress isn’t going to help the situation.

Find ways to manage stress. Identify your triggers and how they make you feel.

Then, find a way to manage it. Is it getting out and taking a walk? Meditation?  Listening to music? Talking to a friend?

Don’t have time for any of that? Try breathing. You have to do that anyway.

Take a deep breath in while expanding your belly.

Then out, while allowing your belly to fall.


There’s a tremendous amount of power in each breath.

It forces you to focus on the present moment rather than the past and the future.

Try an app like Calm or Headspace to guide you through more formal breathing exercises and meditation. Let imagery and words guide you to a calmer place.

Find ways to calm your mind so you can manage your fear, anxiety, stress, and overwhelm.

Start by just breathing.

Embrace the uniqueness by capturing memories

Second, embrace the craziness and chaos that is 2020.

Create new traditions, and snap photos of the ways you’re adapting.

It’s a year for the memory books, whether it’s a Zoom call filled with kids making crazy faces or Grandma trying to figure out how to work the technology.

Snap a photo of the craziness. You’ll look back at it in a few years and be glad you did.

These days may not bring you joy now, but you may look back on them in a few years and feel differently. Think about times in the past that seemed like a major step backward but turned out to be the turning point that created unforeseen opportunities.

Oh yeah – the year we ran out of toilet paper, Lysol wipes, and disinfectant spray. The year I worked remotely, shared an office with my children, and the year everything went virtual.

Get outside

Even though it may be cold outside, fresh air soothes the soul.

Get outside and enjoy nature or the beautiful decorations around you.

Sunshine is a little harder to capture this time of year, so soak it in when it shines. It’s amazing the difference some sun can make in how your body feels and get some vitamin D as a bonus!

Even if it’s cloudy, get outside. A change of scenery will do your mind some good.

Find inspiration

What inspires you? Is it music, a motivational talk, or self-care?

Try something new. Pick up a new skill.

It’ll distract you and help you clear your mind of all the worries that a pandemic-filled holiday may bring.

how to find joy during the holidays

Give yourself credit

We’re the first to dole out compliments to others, but when was the last one you reflected on your own life and gave yourself kudos?

Celebrate all you’ve accomplished this year! It hasn’t been easy. You did it!

No victory is too small to celebrate.

Write down all your success. Your challenges too. You’ve probably overcome more than you think.

Take a moment for yourself and recognize what you’re able to do. That can instantly change your mindset.

Focus on being rather than doing

Already feel detached from the world? Take it one step further. Seriously. Do it.

Turn off your phone. Get off social media. Give yourself space from other members of your family.

Do nothing.

Being, rather than doing, is more challenging than you think, but it’s transformative.

You survived 2020. It’s time to fill your cup so you have a path forward and are ready for whatever 2021 may bring.

If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911.

You can also call the toll-free, 24 hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Help is available.