While the holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, a lot of us wind up feeling down and depressed around Christmas time. Here are 5 ways that the season can bring you down — and five ways to fix them 1. STRESS: Every year there seems to be more and more to do in order to pull off the perfect Christmas. With the added stress of wrapping up everything at work in order to take a scant few days off you've got presents to worry about getting, presents for the kids, for your parents, for your brothers, sisters, husband, girlfriends, nieces, nephews, mailman, and a list that seems to include everyone else you encountered throughout the year. Throw in the social obligations every day in December to dinner parties at your house and dinner parties at other houses (and the fact that no one ever really seems to help out — what, they think Christmas just happens?) and before you know it you are an angry ball of stress. Happy holidays? Yeah right. THE FIX: Stress sucks, and if we learned anything from our mothers it doesn't help anyone in the house to be a holy terror around the holidays. Take a page out of the Bob Marley book of relaxation and just chill. If your son just can't imagine Christmas without his favourite set of lights adorning the outside of the house just point him to the box where you keep them in the garage. If you husband is excited for those grandma's-recipe sugar cookies that take you a day and a half to make give him five bucks and send him down to Loblaws to get the ones that taste basically the same. Don't take ownership over everything, it isn't your responsibility to make everything perfect. 2. MONEY STRESS All those presents don't pay for themselves, and while most people think the gifts under the tree are the biggest financial stress of the season there is a lot more tinsel being spent then a lot of us realise. From all the fancy food, wine, and nog we consume (not to mention all the candies and cookies) we drop a pretty penny. Any decorations need to be replaced from last year? Ca-ching! Any holiday trips to the slopes or maybe a holiday cruise? Ca-ching! As a matter of fact, once we open our purses up after thanksgiving for a few things here and there it seems that we never stop spending until the last penny. Stressful? Sure, but the real depression sets in for those of us who can't keep up with the neighbour's cruises and quite often can't afford a whole lot more than the tree with time of year. THE FIX: Celebrate a home-made gift Christmas with your family this year. The grownups will get more fun out of whatever knickknack is made for them than a sweater from Old Navy anyway. If people are insistent on doing a gift exchange suggest one where you each buy one gift and draw names. At very least set down some ground rules about price limits — just because some of you have in-ground heated pools doesn't mean the rest of you are flush with cash. 3. BEING AWAY FROM LOVED ONES: It isn't easy being away from the people you care about at Christmas time. For many of us it just simply isn't possible to be crowded around the tree with friends and family because of work or other obligations throughout the season. For others this is the first Christmas since a friend or family member passed away or since a divorce or other life restructuring, and that can weigh on you after a while and lead to depression. THE FIX: If you're stuck in a strange city or working at Fort Mac over the holiday season there are still a number of ways to connect with people, old and new, over the yuletide. Skype is as cheap as your internet connection if you want to tune into the holidays of the people you care about and there are always plenty of 'orphan Christmas' events put on by people in your same situation. If you can't find one you can always throw one! 4. FATIGUE: The stream of stressful things that need to be taken care of can be downright exhausting. By the time the last of the lights are up and the tree is trimmed you might feel as if you need to sleep in until mid-February to make up for the effort you put into the holiday season. It is no secret that the holidays are the most universally stressful time of the year, and with everything you need to accomplish before the 25th you can sometimes burn out before Santa comes down the chimney. THE FIX: As tempting as it is to go overboard (and there is no shortage of reminders that this season only comes but once a year) try your best to only bite off as much as you can chew. Instead of hosting several dinner parties, why not just attend someone else's? Instead of decorating the entire house to get into the spirit, why not just watch A Muppet Christmas Carol for the one millionth time? the key to reducing stress and fatigue is limiting how much you take on and remembering that around this time of year there will always be a bunch more dropped into your lap regardless. 5. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: The Clark Griswold Christmas problem — you've built up the holiday so much in your mind that when it doesn't go exactly as planned you chalk it up as a complete failure. Movies, TV, even carols at this time of year never stop pumping out the concept of the perfect Christmas with snow outside the window, a roaring fire, the gentle lull of Christmas songs throughout the house, and a big happy family all gathered together sipping on eggnog. When Christmas ends up greener than June in a cramped apartment with no fireplace while your family argues around you it can be more than you can bare. You know you've hit rock bottom when you hear yourself utter the phrase "can't we have a nice Christmas just this once?!" THE FIX: The reality is that outside of the movies no Christmas is perfect, ever. There will always be a dog stealing food off of the table, a tree falling over, red wine on the white carpet, and any other litany of mistakes and slip ups. Don't let it get you down, this is Christmas for us folks who live here in reality, not on a TV screen. Things go wrong, just take a deep breath and remember that there is always next year. The most important thing to remember to avoid holiday depression is to take it easy, stress about things like perfection, money, and family are the big things that bring us down around the holidays, so take a few deep breaths and take these precautions to help avoid falling into the holiday blues trap.