It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or is it? While many people love the excitement and bustle of the holiday season, many others feel overwhelmed, stressed out, even depressed.
Stress, can be caused by feeling that we have to do certain things, that we must meet a certain set of standards and deadlines, whereas the blues, are a feeling of loss, sadness, or loneliness.
If you find yourself feeling down or the winter celebrations always bring on a bout of despair, below are some suggestions to help keep at bay those holiday blues and prevent them from becoming deep, deep blue.
1. Avoid alcohol.
Ok, maybe not all alcohol. I mean, Eggnog, anyone? But alcohol does deplete the brain of serotonin, which is a chemical needed to maintain a normal mood. So, if you do partake, limit yourself and drink a glass of water between each alcoholic drink. Volunteer to be the designated driver if necessary to avoid those situations.
And speaking of volunteering, you might want to volunteer at the local soup kitchen, retirement home, homeless shelter or animal shelter. Adopt an angel, or adopt an entire family. When we give to others, everyone benefits, but the greatest gift is usually the one that by giving to others, we give to ourselves.
3. Surround yourself with friends or family that lift your spirit.
Even if you aren’t feeling up to it and would rather stay home watching one of those Christmas movies that will leave you in tears, like, It’s a Wonderful Life or Love Actually, force yourself to socialize anyway. Being alone will only feed the sadness and depression.
Not to a new house or city, but move, as in exercise. Studies have shown over and over again that exercise can temporarily relieve anxiety and depression. A quick 10-minute walk may be just as effective as a 45-minute workout in helping to elevate our mood.
5. Eat Healthily.
Make the majority of your meals healthy ones – this isn’t to say that you can’t indulge in the office Christmas cookies, or enjoy the seasonal Pumpkin Spice latte on occasion, but pick foods that will help stabilize your blood sugar, especially when you know you will be eating extra sweets.
6. Decorate with lots of lights!
Holiday lights just scream happiness and allow us to bask in the warmth and wonder of the season. Because of the shorter days and lack of sunlight, our moods are often affected – our biological clock is thrown off – sometimes causing us to eat, sleep, and become more emotional than usual, so keep your home well lit.
7. Practice gratitude.
Start a gratitude journal. If you don’t already have a journal or notebook, buy yourself one that you love, one with a beautiful cover, artwork or inspirational quotes. Keep it by your bedside and take a few minutes to write in it before retiring each night. We can always find something to be grateful for. Even if you’ve had a tough day, you can usually find something positive. Your morning cup of coffee? A nice hot shower? A bed in which to sleep?
8. Emphasize the more spiritual side of the holiday.
Rethink the reason for the season. Attend a candle lighting ceremony, tree lighting, attend a church service, go see the Nutcracker (for the umpteenth time) or drive around the town and enjoy the lights and decorations.
9. Give small gifts to yourself.
Have lunch with a friend, go to an art gallery, join a yoga class, get a new haircut or color, or treat yourself to a spa treatment.
10. Make plans for next year
One of the best ways to get through the holiday season if it is a season you dread is to make plans for the New Year. Look ahead to new opportunities – if it is your family that you are missing, start planning the next reunion or get together. Another great idea is to plan a Chinese New Year’s Party – this is usually in late January or February. By this time people have recuperated from the holidays and are ready for a little socializing again. Plus, people don’t have the same heightened expectations of a typical New Years celebration – it can be a simple but exotic get together, full of symbolism and the unexpected.
Avoid making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, set New Year’s Intentions. Resolutions are many times just a repeat of the one’s we made last year. Again we vow to “lose weight, stop smoking, get more exercise,” or other things along those lines. The problem with making resolutions is that they usually focus on the negative, areas in our life where we feel we have shortcomings, or where we have failed in the past. Focusing on the negative things in our life can only bring us more of the same.
Our thoughts become our reality. When we focus, commit to, and are clear about the positive things that we want to attract; that is when we are working with intentions. The way we go about setting intentions, is to first, know exactly what you want. Secondly, you need to visualize the desired result before it actually happens, and thirdly, expect the result to happen. Intention is that magical combination of will, motivation and desire.
So, set some new and beautiful intentions for the year ahead and stay focused on all of the exciting possibilities that await you in the future.