Thanksgiving is this week and we’re headed into the five-week period known as “the holidays.” It’s supposed to be a joyous time of gathering friends and family. But sometimes our anticipation and excitement can turn into feelings of sadness, stress and depression sometimes referred to as the “holiday blues.” Here are ten ways to beat those blues this year:
1. Plan Relaxation
Come up with restorative routines, such as reading a book or napping, and write them on a calendar. In between shopping and baking, make sure these routines don’t fall by the wayside.
2. Avoid Family Conflict
If you know there are going to be conflicts, have a neutral response prepared like, “Let’s talk about that another time.” Don’t be afraid to escape to the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen or hang out with the kids.
3. Let Go of Perfection
Forget stressing over finding that perfect gift or making the perfect meal. Focus on the things that make you happy, and consider traditions to help those who are less fortunate. It can make you realize how lucky you really are.
4. Allow Yourself to Grieve Loss
If you’ve recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be particularly difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel angry with the person for leaving you alone or feeling guilty if you do enjoy yourself during the holidays. Allow yourself those feelings – they are part of the process.
5. Make Time for Sleep
Holiday activities can easily interfere with your sleep schedule. But studies have shown there is a link between sleep loss and depression, so be extra careful about cutting back on sleep just to get everything done.
6. Ask for Help
If you don’t have family nearby, you may feel like you just can’t get everything done alone. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. There are always friends and neighbors willing to chip in. You only have to ask.
Exercise is often one of the first activities to get lost in the holiday shuffle – don’t let it. The more stress we are under, the less time we feel like we have, and the more irritated our mood, the more we need to continue exercising. Exercise has been shown to improve mood. Taking a brisk walk for 35 minutes five days a week is all you need.
8. Consider Light
If you’re consistently tired, irritable, and down at this time of year, it may not be the holidays as much as the lack of exposure to the sun. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can be treated by spending some daylight time in the sun – try going for a walk or look into special sun simulating lamps.
9. Rethink Gifts
If the financial stress of holiday shopping is causing you to lose sleep, rethink your gifting. Homemade gifts are always appreciated and instead of buying for everyone in your family, you can suggest drawing names – which is often more fun and much more economical.
10. Don’t Binge on Food and Alcohol
Overindulgence does not have to be a holiday tradition. Have one piece of pie instead of three. And don’t use alcohol as a means of dealing with depression – it can intensify your emotions and leave you feeling even worse when the effects wear off.