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How the Holidays Make Us Feel

With finals rapidly approaching, temperatures dropping, and string lights embellishing many houses on campus, the “holiday season” is officially upon us. Regardless of which holidays you celebrate, whether it be Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc., we all go home for winter break to family gatherings and holiday themed activities. While the holidays are often painted in a positive light, not all of us react to this season with happiness. There are many different ways that the holidays can make you feel. Here are some of the common emotions you may feel around this time of year:

  • Cheerful

If you’re like me and suffer from seasonal depression, the holidays can serve as the perfect midwinter pick-me-up, giving you a reason to smile in the cold, windy state of Michigan where it becomes pitch black at 5 pm (love that). For me personally, the holidays are filled with fun winter activities such as ice skating, cookie/ Christmas tree decorating, and quality time with family and friends. I can take my mind off of school and find enjoyment in small activities that make me happy.

  • Depressed

On the extreme opposite side of the emotional spectrum, the holidays can also make us feel really down. First, the holidays may remind you that you are single and alone. The holiday season has also recently been referred to as “cuffing season,” where it is allegedly prime-time to find a significant other. This idea sort of makes sense, as many holiday themed activities are coincidentally fairly romantic: sitting by the fire, ice skating (gotta hold hands if you’re bad at skating, you know), mistletoe, etc. Thus, when you fail to get “cuffed” during the holidays, it can make you feel pretty upset watching all of the other couples shove their love in your face while you sit home alone drowning in a box of chocolates. More seriously, another reason for feeling depressed over the holidays is family troubles. If you do not have a very good family dynamic, knowing that the holidays are a time where families express their love for each other and spend time together can remind you of your dysfunctional family.

  • Annoyed

While the Grinch is known for having a small heart for hating Christmas, in certain circumstances during the holiday season I can really identify with him (oops). The holidays involve a lot of mandatory activities that can easily cause irritability. You have to spend time selecting and purchasing many gifts, cooking elaborate meals, decorating, and talking to relatives that you really just don’t wish to interact with (my personal favorite). Nothing makes me more irritated than telling my second cousin’s wife for the millionth time in a row that no, I still don’t have a boyfriend or a definite career plan.

  •  Guilty

If you are like me and are not remotely religious, the holidays can make you feel a bit guilty. For example, because I am technically half Jewish and half Catholic, I celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah (A.K.A. I get an absurd amount of gifts). However, have I ever been to church or temple? No. Do I honestly even understand what I am celebrating? Nope, not really. But am I getting an insane amount of food and presents? Yes. I am being showered with gifts for holidays that I don’t even truly deserve to celebrate considering I am not at all involved in the religions they are connected to. Thus, the holidays make me feel guilty for mindlessly reaping the benefits of religious traditions. However, you can also feel guilty for momentarily obliterating your parents’ bank accounts with your expensive gift lists (sorry for those of you who still believe in Santa).

  • Grateful

Lastly, the holidays always make me feel incredibly thankful for the opportunities I have and for the people that I love. For me personally, there is no better feeling than arriving home to celebrate with people I care about. I spend Christmas with my family and best friend from home who I don’t get to see as often as I would like to because she goes to school in Scotland (yes, my best friend comes to Christmas, we are practically dating) and am reminded of how lucky I am to have people in my life who make me so happy.


The holidays can make us feel a variety of different ways. So, if you’re like most people and relate to emotions 1 and 5 on this list, enjoy the season. If you mostly relate emotions 2, 3, and 4, know that you aren’t alone and aren’t the worst for feeling this way. If you feel a mixture of both, know that it’s okay to have a love-hate relationship with the holidays: you can’t be merry all of the time.

Images courtesy of: breathelifehealingcenters.com 


Devin Ablow

U Mich '20

Devin is a feature editor for the University of Michigan chapter of Her Campus. She is a junior studying English and Psychology, and hopes to eventually become a child psychologist. Follow her on instagram, devin_ablow, go blue! 
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