emotional wellbeing

Written By: DiveThru Team

Reviewed By: Dr. Carrie Jackson Ph.D.


Feeling the Holiday Blues? 15 Things That Will Make You Feel Better

PUBLISHED Dec 21st, 2021 & UPDATED ON Jan 5th, 2023

It’s supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year”… but you’re just not feeling it. The holiday blues can be especially hard because the holiday season comes with the expectation that everyone is supposed to be joyful and festive. There are lots of reasons you might not be feeling like Buddy the Elf, like missing family members who are either not with you anymore or are unable to travel because of the pandemic. 

Holiday depression is REAL and doesn’t make you a Grinch! You’re allowed to feel your feelings and that means sadness too. But if you’re looking for some ways to cheer yourself up this holiday season… your friends at DiveThru are here to help with some ideas for how to beat the holiday blues! 

Five Feel-Good Holiday Movies

Love a good wholesome story? Ready to escape into a cheesy rom-com? Well, here are suggestions for both!

1. Elf

A classic! If you’re looking for a charming and heartwarming movie, Elf is a perfect choice. Buddy is a human who was adopted by elves and now works at Santa’s North Pole Workshop. When he learns that his biological father is on the naughty list, Buddy heads to New York City to meet him. Hijinks ensue. 

Elf has some serious star power, too! It’s directed by Jon Favreau and stars Will Ferrel, James Caan, Zoey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Bob Newhart, Ed Asner, and Peter Dinklage. 

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas 

The Grinch is a bitter creature who lives in a mountain above Whoville. Whos are obsessed with Christmas, and this year the Grinch has had enough—so he decides to dress up as Santa and commit grand theft Christmas. 

If you’re feeling the holiday blues, you miiiight just start out rooting for the Grinch as he tries to stop his loud neighbours from celebrating Christmas. But just as the Whos eventually get to the Grinch, this story will make your heart grow three sizes, too! 

You’ve got some options here! You can watch the 1966 animated TV special narrated by Boris Karloff, the 2000 live-action movie Jim Carey version, or the 3D animated movie with Benedict Cumberbatch voicing the green meanie from 2018. 

Also, turns out you can actually pay to have a real Grinch come to your house and ruin Christmas…not sure we recommend though, haven’t tested it ourselves yet.

3. The Holiday  

This one’s for all you rom-com lovers out there! Cameon Diaz and Kate Winslet play women from Los Angeles and London, who arrange a home exchange over the holidays to get away from heartbreak. Enter Jude Law and Jack Black! 

The Holiday has been called charming, hopeful, and a modern Christmas classic. If you’re looking for something sweet that’s not going to give you a toothache, this is a great choice! 

4. Klaus 

Finally, Santa’s origin story! Klaus is a reclusive toymaker who is befriended by a mail carrier in a northern town. The town is divided by a feud between two large families, so the mail carrier and Klaus team up to bring the town together over the joys of Christmas. 

This animated movie stars J.K. Simmons, Jason Schwartzman, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, and Norm Macdonald. The film was distributed by Netflix, so it’s available in every country where Netflix is available. 

It will make you laugh and it will make you cry and then it will make you laugh some more. We cannot recommend this holiday movie more. 19/10.

5. Single All the Way

This one just came out in December 2021, so you probs haven’t seen it yet! Single All the Way tells the story of Peter, a newly-single guy who just wants to avoid his family’s questions when he goes home for Christmas… so he gets his best friend to come with him and pretend to be his boyfriend. Except, before they can announce their fake relationship, Peter’s mom announces that she’s set him up on a blind date. Classic rom-com situation!

Five Feel-Good Activities 

You can do these alone or with a loved one! Sometimes you want some company, and other times you need some quality alone time. Totes up to you! 

1. Bake Cookies 

Perfect holiday activity! Baking cookies can be a creative outlet, from picking and choosing ingredients, to decorating the finished product. You also engage all your senses, from hearing the mixer to feeling the flour in between your fingers, and that engagement boosts endorphins. Mindfulness FTW! Then you get the satisfaction of seeing something that YOU made, and that’s also a boost! 

Not only that, but you also get the enjoyment of eating as many cookies as you want to once they’re out of the oven. We guess you could also give some cookies to your neighbours and friends if you reaaaaally wanted to… (acts of generosity also boost your mood!) Speaking of—

2. Donate Your Time 

Practicing holiday self-care doesn’t necessarily mean being selfish! Whether it’s helping out at a soup kitchen or wrapping presents at the mall for a charitable fundraiser, there are plenty of opportunities to give back that don’t cost money. Acts of charity have a tangible health benefit (known as helper’s high). A 2006 study found that donating to charity activates the part of the brain that is associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. 

Volunteering also helps foster social connections, because groups of people get together to do something for the sole purpose of doing good—and what do people generally want in friends? Good people with similar interests. If you’re feeling that holiday depression, giving back might be just what the doctor ordered! 

3. Listen to Christmas Music

Upbeat tunes can boost our mood, and oh my are there a lot of happy upbeat Christmas songs… so take your pick! Maybe Frosty the Snowman or Santa Claus is Coming to Town will boost your spirits! Music is also tied to memory, so hearing festive songs on the radio can make you nostalgic for your childhood Christmases. 

On the other hand—maybe Happy Xmas (War is Over) is just the right vibe for your holiday depression. Or maybe you listen to the other half of Lennon/ McCartney singing Wonderful Christmastime and be amazed at how different those two Beatles feel about this time of year. 

4. Take a Stroll Under the Lights

Sure it’s dark and cold outside—and that might even be why you’re not feeling so cheery—but getting bundled up and going for a walk to enjoy the decorations can be a nice break from the holiday stress. Many places have either a town square, shopping district, or neighbourhood that takes decorating v seriously. 

Even if it’s chilly, grab your toque and mitts, fill up your thermos, and go enjoy the wintry beauty! And that leads us to—

5. Warm Beverages  

We ask you: is there anything better than warming up with a nice steaming mug of hot chocolate? “Not being cold in the first place,” you say?

Whether you’re a hot chocolate lover, coffee fiend, prefer a nice tea, or enjoy a nice cup of mulled wine, warm bevvies are legit good for mental health. One study found that people formed better opinions of people when holding a hot coffee instead of an iced coffee. We are JUST NOW realizing why coffee dates are so popular… 

Plus, warm drinks make us feel better when we’re sick—and who isn’t a little sniffly when it’s freaking cold out??—and you even get to use your fave mug (everyone has one!). This fits with pretty much all the above tips, too! Watching a holiday movie? Eating cookies? Volunteering? Listening to music? Going for a walk? All of the above can be made better by your fave hot drink! 

Five New Traditions 

If the source of your holiday blues is missing loved ones who are either unable to travel because of the pandemic or unable to do the traditional Christmas dinner because of gathering restrictions, here are some new traditions you can try: 

1. (Virtual) Game Night 

Depending on your family or friend group’s ages and interests, this will look different for everyone! Maybe your friends gather on Xbox Live and play a multiplayer game (complete with some light trash talk!), or everyone downloads one of the many apps like Jackbox that allow people to virtually play party games together. Just because you can’t pass cards around a table, doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy game night in another fashion. 

2. Cheer Train 

Pack up the family, string some Christmas lights around the car, and drive past your loved ones’ homes! Be honest, you’ve always wanted an excuse to just lean into the horn, so now you’ve got one! Blast some Christmas tunes on the radio and wave out the window! 

There are so many different ways to do this, too! Maybe a few families form a convoy and drive past the grandparents houses, or a bunch of people plan ahead and go for a drive through downtown with decorated cars to brighten people’s spirits (NOT during rush hour tho… because people will honk back and they won’t be friendly honks…). 

3. Fires 

If indoor gatherings aren’t allowed, or your loved ones aren’t quite ready for packing dozens of people into a house, having a fire can be a nice compromise. It’s an outside activity that allows people to maintain their distance, the fire keeps everyone warm, and it’s an opportunity to gather and socialize (and drink warm drinks!!). Of course, this is only a good idea if your local health authorities allow for outdoor gatherings… so best to double-check before sending off invites! 

4. (Virtual) Movie Night 

If you’re missing out on a tradition of watching holiday movies, you can always gather virtually and just have everyone hit play at the same time. Or just text each other the whole time, if your internet connection doesn’t love streaming and video calling at the same time. We know it’s not the same as getting together and all sharing a big bowl of popcorn, but technology at least offers a way to keep traditions going until it’s safer. 

5. Zoom Dinners 

It might not be ideal, but it’s better than nothing! If you can’t gather in-person, at least hearing your loved ones’ voices and seeing them squishing together to all fit on camera can be a boost. Just pick a time and drop the link in the family group chat, and away you go! 

There are benefits too! You can make whatever you want without worrying about any allergies or aversions that your loved ones may have, and you can totally wear sweatpants to family dinner and no one will judge you (or know)! 

Happy holidays from your friends at DiveThru 🎄⛄️


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