The toxic positivity surrounding the holiday season: Why it needs to be addressed


Photo Courtesy of the Cord

Naomi Engle, Staff Writer

Holidays are stereotypically bright and merry.  From rebranding companies to Hallmark movies, everything on TV seems to be littered with laughter, hanging out with family, and sitting at the fire with a perfect cup of hot cocoa.  While that cup of cocoa might not be as perfect at home, the holiday sentiment is still universally based around joy.  In fact, the expectation for happiness can be overwhelming as people rush to shop, make last-minute plans, and somehow unwind.  So what happens to those who struggle with depression or other mental conditions?  “Holiday blues” is not unheard of, but there’s an alarming statistic to it.  Findings from a 2014 study conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness show that 64% of people with mental illnesses reported themselves as being emotionally strained and their conditions as being “mildly to moderately exacerbated” during the holiday season.  And just a simple examination on how the media portrays the month of December speaks volumes about the toxic positivity.

Some of the reasons behind this statistic include high workload, familial tensions, and even gloomy weather.  But most of all is the toxic and overwhelming pressure to enjoy the holidays.  Those struggling with depression, the loss of a loved one, or clinical illness suffer the most.

While the statistics aren’t fully in yet, it’s very likely that we will see an increase in poor mental health this season, aggravated by the pandemic.  There will also likely be an increase in awareness of mental health that comes with the changing political climate.  It’s vital that information on how toxic positivity impacts holiday cheer not only be brought to light, but also implemented in our society, in order for everyone to have a safe and healthy holiday.