The holiday season is fast approaching and with it comes many emotions and experiences. While many people enjoy the festivities, gatherings, sparkling lights, and traditions; holidays can be stressful and even emotionally painful for others. You may recall feelings of excitement, happiness, fellowship, and harmony from years before and are eager to experience them again. However, our anticipation for the holidays can turn into feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, and even depressed. In order to make the most of the holiday season and take care of yourself during a time of shortened days, cold weather, and extra activity, here are some tips to beat the holiday blues.
1) Be realistic. Be honest with yourself, and know your limitations in terms of scheduling activities and ability to attend to what you commit to. Being overbooked can lead to exhaustion which make people feel cranky, irritated and depressed. By knowing your limits, you can decide which tasks you want to take on and which things you can delegate.
2) Don’t stray too far from your routine. Try to keep your normalcy by taking care of your mind and body as you typically would. Eat healthy (when you are not at festivities), exercise regularly, and taking time for self-care are just as important during the busy holiday season as they are any other time of the year.
3) Manage your time. Pace yourself this holiday season by creating a plan with a to-do list and set deadlines. Write everything down into your calendar so you have a visual reminder and goals you can cross off when accomplished. It feels so good crossing things off your list.
4) Prioritize your activities and stick to them. If you enjoy spending time with your family above spending time with your co-workers, don’t commit to a work party taking place on the same day as your family gathering.
5) Make a meaning for the season. If you create an important meaning for yourself, the holidays can take a new shape. You may find that what is most important about the holidays is creating meaningful gifts for your loved ones or volunteering your time. Find your personal meaning and do things according to that meaning. It’ll help you feel like you are on “the right track” and keep you focused on what matters most to you.
6) Remember, you may not feel like you did when you were a kid. Many people remember those feelings from when we were children and long for them to return to us as adults. Sometimes when we don’t feel particularly happy or connected to others, we feel guilty. It is okay that the holidays do not automatically take away your feelings of loneliness, sadness, frustration, anxiety and/or fear.
7) Accept help from others. You do not have to do everything by yourself. If you are entertaining ask guests to bring their talents to the event by bringing a dish to pass or making decorations. If you have children and/or a partner, ask them to take care of smaller tasks that do not require your individualized attention.
8) Plan unstructured, low-cost fun holiday activities. So much of the season has become focused on financial contributions, and spending the most on high priced gifts. This can become overwhelming and saddening, especially if money is tight. Plan activities that are free or involve little cost such as window shopping downtown or driving through decorated neighborhoods. Get a little creative and it is easy to entertain yourself without having to spend a lot of money.
9) Laugh at the little things. Just like any normal day, there are going to be hiccups and headaches. Laugh at the little things. If you are feeling bogged down or overwhelmed, watch a comedy to recharge. Have your kids tell you their favorite jokes. Do something to make you laugh, even for a moment.
10) Accept change and incorporate “newness” into the holidays. Many people have suffered losses that are remembered during the holidays. If you have suffered a loss, consider changing your routine slightly as a way to honor and accept loss.