The holiday season is an exciting and joyful for many people, but for others, the holidays are a time of stress and depression. While the holiday meals, treats, gifts, parties, gatherings, family visit, and actives are eagerly looked forwarded to by many, for others these are a source of dread and worry. The National Institute of Health reports high numbers of depression and reassurance of depression symptoms around the holiday season; hospitals and police also report higher than normal numbers of suicide attempts. Why do people get depressed around the holidays? Some are struggling financially to provide the holiday their family deserves, others are spending their first holiday without a deceased family member, others are simply overwhelmed by the demands made for their time and energy. What is suppose to be a peaceful time of joy and happiness becomes a yearly struggle to keep up pretentious.

Thus, civility and kindness, in general, are needed during the holiday season more than ever. The simplest act of kindness, a sincere “thank-you” to a frazzled retail worker, cooking a meal for a busy friend, or a donation of time or money to a local non-profit, will go miles. Check in on those in your life who may not be in as festive a mood and see what you can do to spread some kindness their way- a simple phone call may change that person’s entire month! Many random acts of kindness challenges take place over the holiday season in an effort to spread the joy around, so consider taking part in on or creating your own.

Kindness starts with you, and that means being kind to yourself. Don’t forget about self-kindness during the holiday season. Be realistic about your expectations of yourself and what you are capable of handling. If the thought of hosting extended family members for weeks, attending countless parties or cooking elaborate festive meals fills you with anxiety and dread – then simply step down. Holiday kindness means taking care of yourself and not just others. Your expressions of kindness and love to the people in your life and community don’t need to be over the top, often the simplest expressions are the most appreciated. Being kind and taking care of yourself allows to better share those sentiments with others.

There are over 25 different holidays, festivals and celebrations that happen in the month of December, so everyone you meet in one way or another is celebrating something. Be sure to share your kindness with all the members of your community; even if their celebration is different from your own, they’re likely facing the same stresses you are, and in need of kindness too.