christmas decoration and garland placed on fabric

Holiday moods. How to master the ups and downs.

Table of Contents

A Christmas vignette/how Christmas hasn't changed/moods

Holiday moods

Holiday moods are a real thing. Everyone knows that. The holiday season brings a flurry of activities and deadlines. It brings joy, too. However, for many people, this time of year can also bring about feelings of sadness and loneliness. While everyone around seems to be embracing the holiday cheer, some find it difficult to escape the grip of the low-season blues.

But there are ways to unlock the holiday cheer and master your moods during this time. In this blog post, I will dive into the art of managing moods during the holiday season. You will find tools that will equip you to beat the low-season blues.

We’ll explore the reasons behind these emotions. and analyze their impact on our well-being. Finally, I’ll give you some strategies to help you navigate through the holiday season with a positive mindset. I was going to divide this post into two parts but we are headed back to the cabin to close it down for the year. Sigh. So I won’t be posting Tuesday.

The ideal

Picture this: you’re surrounded by loved ones, the air is filled with the aroma of freshly baked cookies, and colorful lights brighten up every corner. Yet, deep within, you can’t help but feel a sense of gloom that refuses to fade away. It’s a paradoxical experience and one that many individuals face during the holiday season. I used to myself.

christmas decoration and garland placed on fabric/moods

While I enjoyed crafting, decorating, and all things Christmas, I often found that when the big day arrived for our families to get together, I felt down. Was it a result of too much hype ahead of time? Did I expect it to be like a Hallmark movie? Was I just tired? Could have been all three.

I don’t experience these low moods anymore and have learned how to keep my Christmas’ realistic while looking forward to it at the same time. I do what I enjoy and don’t compare myself to the hype on social media.

Complexities of the holidays

Understanding the complexities of these holiday moods is crucial in overcoming them. Isolation, financial strain, and unmet expectations are just a few factors that can contribute to feelings of sadness and anxiety. By acknowledging and addressing the root causes, proactive steps can be taken to reclaim our joy and embrace the holiday.

Let’s embrace the holiday season with open arms and create lasting memories filled with warmth, laughter, and pure holiday bliss. But first, let’s look at some science behind the holiday blues.

The Science Behind Holiday Moods

The holiday season is often associated with feelings of joy and happiness, but for some individuals, it can also bring about a sense of sadness and melancholy. Understanding the science behind these holiday blues can help us navigate through them more effectively.

Increased cortisol and sad feelings

Research has shown that during the holiday season, there is an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. This can be attributed to various factors, including financial strain, increased social obligations, and unrealistic expectations.

Additionally, the decrease in sunlight during winter months can disrupt our circadian rhythm and affect our mood. (When will Congress ever act on this?)

Furthermore, the holiday season can serve as a reminder of past losses or difficult memories. It is common for individuals to experience grief or nostalgia during this time, which can contribute to feelings of sadness and loneliness. Losing a loved one is especially hard. My friend is from England, and every year, she gets homesick at this time of year even though she’s lived most of her life here.

So the first step is recognizing that these feelings are normal and temporary is an important first step toward overcoming the holiday blues.

Understanding Your Moods

Mood triggers are unique

In order to effectively manage our moods during the holiday season, it is crucial to identify the triggers that contribute to our negative emotions. By understanding what specifically causes us distress, we can take proactive steps towards addressing these triggers.

Triggers for you will be different than mine, one of which is always fatigue. If I don’t get enough sleep, I’m very prone to feeling overwhelmed. Because I know this, I’m very disciplined with my sleep schedule.


Fatigue is a common trigger. But so is clutter and if there was ever a time of year for clutter it’s the holidays.

Too much clutter

But I can also get overwhelmed from too much clutter, as well. And I don’t mean the clutter that comes from a messy house. I mean the clutter that comes from looking at all your craft items and undone projects and then panicking. This happened to me right in the middle of this post. So, I will share it will you.

My husband is deer hunting near our cabin. I will join him Monday. Soo this was going to be my big “crafting” weekend. So I got all my supplies out and the basics of my planned-for craft projects. The first day I was doing good and then….

Christmas chaos

I had this particular project in mine but no clue where to begin. So I brought out more craft supplies… Well, you know where this is heading, don’t you? Pretty soon, I had no idea what to do next and I started to feel anxious. You know what I did?

unrecognizable upset lady embracing knees sitting on chair/moods

I stopped and prayed. You see, I believe God is interested in how I feel. He wants victory for me, peace, joy. I prayed something to the effect of, “Lord, I’m sorry I let this get to me when there are so many more important things going on in the world. But can I ask that you give me peace about this and show me what to do next. me deal with this. I trust you and acknowledge I need your help. Lead me to make the right decisions.”

You may find it silly but God has never chastised me for praying about very practical things but has often God called me up short when I didn’t. Before I go to bed, I will straighten it all up and have a plan for tomorrow. So, keep your holiday messiness in order if you are prone to anxiety.


Another common trigger during this time of year is isolation. If our loved ones live a distance away, we may feel lonely or disconnected. It is important to recognize this loneliness and seek out opportunities for connection and support. And remember, there is always Zoom and Facetime.

One of the most effective ways to combat feelings of isolation during the holiday season is to actively seek out connection and support. While this can be fairly easy if you’re an extrovert, it’s not so easy if you’re not. But it can still be done.

1. Reach out to loved ones: Make an effort to connect with family and friends, even if it means scheduling virtual gatherings or phone calls. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with trusted individuals can provide a sense of belonging.

2. Volunteer or join community events: Engaging in activities that involve giving back to others can not only provide a sense of purpose but also create opportunities for social interaction.

3. Seek professional help if needed: If feelings of isolation persist or become overwhelming, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support.

Financial stress

Financial stress is another significant trigger for many people during the holidays. The pressure to buy gifts or participate in expensive activities can lead to anxiety and worry. Creating a budget and prioritizing spending can help alleviate some of this stress. For me, I make a lot of handmade gifts. (As you know now.) I’m also fortunate that many of the people on my list are OK with used items from garage sales, thrift shops, etc., which I repurpose.

The financial strain associated with the holiday season can be overwhelming for many individuals. However, there are strategies that can help alleviate this stress.

What you can do

Create a budget: Set a realistic budget for your holiday expenses, taking into account your income and financial obligations. Stick to this budget as much as possible to avoid overspending.

Prioritize meaningful experiences over material gifts: Remember that the true spirit of the holidays lies in creating memories and spending quality time with loved ones. Focus on experiences rather than material possessions.

Explore alternative gift-giving options: Consider homemade gifts, acts of service, or experiences that don’t require a significant financial investment. These gestures can be just as meaningful, if not more so, than store-bought presents.

Unrealistic expectations

Unrealistic expectations also affect our emotional well-being during the holiday season. Society often portrays a picture-perfect image of what the holidays should be like, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy or disappointment. Setting realistic goals and focusing on what truly brings us joy can help manage these expectations.

brown wooden house in the middle of forest during night time

It’s a guess but I’ll bet this applies to many of you. I think having high expectations is a good thing, but not unrealistic ones. And if you come from a dysfunctional background, it’s real easy to so want something different that you set yourself up for a fall.

When my husband and I got married, we vowed to never have the kind of Christmas’ we grew up with. And we didn’t, either. They have been wonderful

Set realistic goals and expectations

Setting realistic goals and managing expectations can help alleviate stress and disappointment during the holiday season:

Reflect on what truly brings you joy. Take some time to identify the activities or traditions that genuinely make you happy during the holidays. Focus on these aspects and let go of any unnecessary expectations.

Some tips

Communicate with loved ones: Have open and honest conversations with family and friends about your expectations for the holiday season. This can help manage everyone’s expectations and avoid potential conflicts. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Have a plan for when it doesn’t.

Practice self-compassion. Remember that it is okay to prioritize your own well-being during this time. Set boundaries, say no when necessary, and give yourself permission to take care of your own needs.

Keep social media in perspective. If there’s one place that can bring our moods down, it’s social media. Remember, what they people do on social media requires a lot of time and many of these bloggers do this as a paying job. You can’t do the same as a hobby so keep that in mind.

Self-Care Strategies for Boosting Moods

Taking care of our physical and emotional well-being is crucial during the holiday season.


Prioritize sleep. Getting enough restful sleep is essential for maintaining a positive mood and managing stress levels. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine. It’s a rare day that I’m not in bed by ten and asleep by 11:00.

Physical activity

Engage in regular physical activity: Exercise has been shown to boost mood by releasing endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Find activities that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your routine.

3. Practice mindfulness or meditation: Taking a few moments each day to focus on the present moment can help reduce stress and increase feelings of calmness. Consider incorporating mindfulness exercises or meditation into your daily routine.

Embracing Gratitude for good moods

Practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on our mood and overall well-being.

Keep a gratitude journal

Take a few minutes each day to write down things you are grateful for. This simple practice can shift your focus towards the positive aspects of your life.

Express gratitude to others.

Take the time to express your appreciation to loved ones or even strangers who have made a positive impact on your life. This act of kindness not only benefits them but also boosts your own mood.

Look for silver linings.

Even during challenging times, there are often small moments of joy or beauty that we can appreciate. Train yourself to look for these silver linings and savor them. Look for God in those moments. I find it amazing the ways God shows up when I least expect Him. Some people call them God-winks or God-sightings. I like God-winks myself. Many times I sense God is smiling at me during these times

Engage in meaningful activities to boost your mood.

Finding joy during the holiday season is about engaging in activities that align with your values and bring you fulfillment. If you really love baking fruitcakes and everyone in your family hates them, make them anyway and donate them.

If Hallmark movies are your thing, watch them. The point is try and incorporate things you really enjoy. That’s how you make Christmas memories for the future.

Give back

Participate in charitable activities or volunteer your time to help those in need. Giving back can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. You can also leave anonymous gifts for strangers. There are all kinds of ways to do this.

Be creative.

How about giving anonymous gifts? Can you imagine how your mood would be lifted if you were to find a small present? Do that for others. Leave a note so people understand it’s for whoever found it and to leave it for the next person, if they don’t want it. Obviously homemade food items are not a good idea.

Need some ideas? There is actually something called Art Abandonment Project. Here’s a link to a book on Amazon. I couldn’t find an actual website but FB has a group dedicated to this.

Create traditions

Establish traditions that hold personal significance for you and your loved ones. These rituals can create lasting memories and foster a sense of connection. For years, we have read the Christmas story on Christmas eve. We bake our special Anzac cookies by the dozens. During Covid we treated our local fire department.

Engage in hobbies or creative outlets: Dedicate time to activities that bring you joy, whether it’s painting, playing an instrument, or cooking. These pursuits can serve as a form of self-expression and stress relief.

Making the Most of the Holidays

The holiday season offers numerous opportunities to create lasting memories:

Be present in the moment

Practice mindfulness by fully immersing yourself in each experience during the holidays. Pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you. I have to work at this myself. I’m often thinking about the next thing. Don’t do that.

Capture moments

Take photos or keep a journal to document your holiday experiences. These mementos can serve as reminders of joyful times in the future. Even if you never journal, at least journal during the Holiday season. It will be so beneficial for you for next year. Keep track of what worked and what didn’t. What you enjoyed and what you didn’t.

Embrace spontaneity

Allow yourself to let go of rigid schedules and plans. Embracing spontaneity can lead to unexpected moments of joy and connection. I’m not good at this either but I’m getting much better. For example, the first beautiful snowfall, thrown on your heavy clothes and get out there. Or, if you have a chance, have a cup of tea or coffee and read for awhile.

Conclusion: Embracing the Holiday Spirit and Mastering Your Moods

The holiday season can be a time of mixed emotions, but by understanding the science behind our moods and implementing strategies to manage them, we can unlock the holiday cheer and create a more joyful experience for ourselves and those around us.

Remember that it is normal to experience ups and downs during this time, but with self-awareness, self-care, and a focus on gratitude, we can navigate through the low season blues with resilience and embrace the true spirit of the holidays.

We can have the Christmas we want in our hearts. Maybe everything around us is chaotic but we can have peace within during the holiday. I hope you find ways to keep your Christmas calm.

God bless you and have a great day.