skip to Main Content
Chanukah Blues

8 Ways to say NO to Chanukah Blues

Chanukah is often a time of mixed emotions. Some of us look forward to seeing the flicker of the Chanuka Candles, the smell of fresh latkes and the delight of the spinning dreidel. However, it can also be a time of increased stress and anxiety as it means a break from routine. For those who need to travel home and spend extended periods of time with family it can be extra stressful.

For many individuals, spending time with family members can trigger unwanted memories or habits which no longer serve them. Additionally, the stress of providing others with gifts & increased awareness of what others have and we don’t have can be upsetting.

For those who don’t have family with whom to share the holidays, the season can be one of increased loneliness and despondency. It is easy to look around and see what others appear to have and be quick to judge ourselves harshly or curse our fates.

What are some tools we can utilize to overcome these fears and better manage our emotions and increased vulnerability during this season?

Whether we’re going home to spend quality time with loved ones or taking a few days off for “staycation,” we all deserve to maintain a sense of equilibrium and inner peace over the the joyous days of Chanuka.

Try these 8 tips to avoid Chanukah blues the Jewish way

1Stick with routine

Stick to a healthy routine as much as possible. Wake up close to your normal wake-time. The body has its own rhythm that needs to be maintained. Sleeping in once or twice is okay of course, but continuously over-sleeping in will lead to increased stress, depression, and overall yuckiness.

2Break with a capital B

Avoid work-related obligations as much as possible; if you’re taking a break, really take a break and let your to do’s wait until you are back at work. Don’t half break – half work lest you end up a miserable.


Rediscover your world, and try going cell-phone, laptop, or tablet free for a specific duration. Maybe for the first half hours the candles are lit, a particularly auspicious time. When we are free from the distraction of our phones, a world of curiosity and possibilities opens up.

4Keep moving

Stick to a fitness routine; the extra food and less movement over the holidays can catch up to us emotionally and having a fitness routine built in is one way of combating this. Exercise also reduces anxiety and stress by increasing the production of feel good hormones circulating our bodies.

5Stay with therapy & meds

If you are in therapy or taking medication make sure you have your medication and discuss potential issues with your therapist ahead of time. Take advantage of  remote sessions if necessary or helpful to avoid unnecessary last-minute crisis and complications. Just because you’re taking a break from work, your emotional health need not suffer.

6Food & mood

Watch what you eat; stay mindful of food choices & portion sizes. This is not about being calorie conscious, this is about how foods affect us in different ways. It is important to realize the effect food has on our energy levels (salt, sugar, caffeine, alcohol etc.), especially the fried foods we are accustomed to on Chanukah. If you find yourself sensitive to the food and mood correlation, try cutting portions in half, and have fun experimenting with healthy food swaps like baked latkes or donuts!

7Excuse yourself, yes you can!

Know how to remove yourself politely. If people are discussing something you find stressful or hurtful it’s okay to walk away and take some time for yourself. Indulge in some music, a favorite podcast, catch a shower or short walk to pass the time productively. I recently discovered a great podcast from Dr. Philip Muskin, Professor of Psychiatry New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he shares insights and pointers on “Holiday Blues”. Check it out here.

8Designate a safety pal

Try to have a ‘safety person’; someone you can utilize if you find yourself overwhelmed. This is a person you can check-in with to remind you to breathe and take a time-out. This can be your therapist, friend, parent, sibling, or get creative.

For more talk on holidays, coping skills, and dealing with emotions check out these topics

Dealing with Emotions

Dealing with difficult family members

Managing Expectations for the Holidays

Wishing you a joyous and light-filled Chanukah!

About the author:


Profile Photo

Yehuda (Hudi) Kowalsky

Are you... A teen struggling in or out of yeshiva? A young man trying to navigate the world of dating, shidduchim, or the workforce? A husband finding marriage to be a lot more difficult than you thought it would be?
You can thrive.

Hi! I’m Hudi Kowalsky, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) with a passion to help teens and young adults find meaning and purpose in their lives.

How my practice is different:
Goal Focused Therapy. I believe in short, goal-focused therapy. That’s why, we set goals and together we hit the ground running. If you put in the work, you’ll see results within 12 weeks. I know that’s a bold statement, but my past clients can attest to that.
Client Feedback. I check in periodically on your thoughts about the process. I want to hear from you, what’s working? What isn’t? Is there anything that you’d like to see different? And then I tweak it accordingly.

I know it can be hard to find the right therapist. Maybe you think it’s only for people with “serious” issues. Maybe you’ve been to a few therapists but you didn’t see change and you’re wondering what another therapist can offer you. Maybe you’re afraid of what people will think of you if you go to therapy. Maybe you’re not sure therapy is worth the investment.

I understand. That’s why I’m here to answer any questions you may have prior to booking an intake session

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. This is really helpful. Too often when we have time allotted to take a break we stay focused on the work we’re trying to distance ourselves from. And even when we don’t, we can find new ways to stress ourselves out when we’re supposed to be relaxing. It’s important to remember to not “half-break” and to just try to enjoy the free time we have.

  2. Thank you for all the helpful tips! We can all use these reminders to help us deal with the stressors that we encounter as we go along this beautiful yet stressful time of the year.

  3. Unplugging is so important when it comes to re-centering yourself. It almost never feels as if there’s enough time when you’re constantly checking your phone for notifications, and that nasty habit of tapping your pocket because you feel a phantom vibration really gets on my nerves! When my phone is a paper weight I finally feel like I can breath and enjoy the moment. Great tip, and wonderful article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back To Top