Women and the Holiday Blues

For some the holiday seasons can be full of joy, filled with everything from family gatherings to culinary traditions and gift-wrapping. For others, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures, and anxiety about an uncertain future, also known as the “holiday blues” (Mental Health America, 2011). Goin (2003) and the American Psychological Association (APA) (2008) suggest that unrealistic expectations, financial constraints, and the inability to be with family and friends—whether through distance or the reminder of a loss—in addition to the demands of holiday preparations, contribute to feelings of tension.

A 2006 survey by APA found women to be significantly more likely than men to worry about having money to purchase gifts (46 percent vs. 35 percent). During the holiday season, women are more likely than men to take on the added workload (Goin, 2003), from running to purchase that last gift to pulling in overtime in the kitchen to feed all the guests. If the holidays signal the anniversary of a death in the family–that empty place at the dining table can be a painful reminder that this season isn’t as special as the one previous. It is important to remember the reason for the season and manage holiday stress effectively. 

The Women’s Programs Office wishes all a very happy and relaxing holiday season.