Beating the Holiday Blues

Sometimes our anticipation can turn into feelings of stress and depression. Here are ten ways to beat the holiday blues.

Thanksgiving is soon 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 often referred to as the “holiday blues.”  Here are ten ways we hope to help you beat those blues this year.

  1. Ask for Help – This might be the most important of all. Don’t feel like you must do everything yourself.  It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.  If you don’t have family nearby, there are always friends and neighbors who are more than willing to lend a hand.  You only need to ask.

  2. Prioritize Self-Care – Instead of rushing around trying to do it all and visiting with everyone, incorporate some restorative time into your day, such as reading a book, working on a puzzle, watching a favorite movie, or napping, and write them on a calendar. In between shopping and baking, make sure self-care is a priority.

  3. 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.” Avoid triggering topics such as politics. Don’t be afraid to take the opportunity to use the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen or hang out with the kids.

  4. Let Go of Perfection – Forget stressing over finding that perfect gift or making that picture-perfect meal. Focus on the things that make you happy and consider new traditions to help those who are less fortunate.  It can make you realize how lucky you really are.  Plus, studies have found that giving is good for our mental health.

  5. 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 feel guilty if you do enjoy yourself during the holidays.  Allow yourself those feelings – they are part of the process.

  6. Ensure Sufficient 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. One late night catching up with family and friends is good for the soul, but too many late nights can be detrimental.

  7. Exercise – 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 Gift Giving – if the financial stress of holiday shopping is causing you to lose sleep, rethink your gift giving. Homemade gifts are always appreciated.  Limit to gifts to something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.  Instead of buying for everyone in your family, 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.

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