Help for the Holiday Blues


It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

Andy Williams

Ever feel like the holidays are more of a hassle than pleasure? Do you become stressed, irritable and even depressed during a season that supposed to be merry?

The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can be stressful—so many social events and family gatherings; questions about how family dynamics will play out; decorating, baking, preparing meals and buying gifts; holiday crowds; elbow to elbow shopping; draining the pocketbook; memories of days gone by, loss and even family tragedies. It’s no wonder that so many people feel rushed, anxious or depressed during this happiest season of all.

Beat the Holiday Blues

If you notice this happens to you then let me offer several ways to smooth out the bumps and beat the holiday blues. All won’t apply to you but think deeply about those that do.

  • Take a little time for yourself each day. Do something that you enjoy whether it be wrapping gifts, sipping a steaming cider, sitting quietly or listening to soft Christmas carols. Be aware of yourself and how you’re doing. Make choices based on what you want to do and not what you should do.
  • Cultivate gratitude by focusing on the good things, no matter how small, that occur each day. Maybe you found the perfect gift on sale. Perhaps you enjoyed the beautiful sunshine or even snowfall as you walked to your car. Maybe someone smiled or offered you kindness or encouragement.
  • Notice if you are using eating, drinking or smoking to relieve tension. If so, find some sort of physical activity to replace the compulsion. It could be walking, dancing, skiing, yoga or anything that makes your body feel good.
  • Set a realistic budget at the start of the season and then stick with it. Acknowledge that the joy of the season is not measured in how much we spend.
  • Refocus your stress or sadness by helping others. The holiday season is a good time to do volunteer work and focus less on receiving and more on giving. Extend yourself to others, but know your limits.
  • Allow traditions to change over time. This year may not be like years past. Accept what you cannot change.
  • Acknowledge your moods. You can’t be up all the time. Make it okay if you don’t feel like celebrating.
  • Use the “buddy system.” Find someone to talk to who will offer assurance and support.
  • Set aside differences as you meet with family. Be present to them. See and listen to them. Focus on enjoyment and the good things about your family.
  • Learn to say “no.” Over-scheduling or giving in to demands you don’t feel good about leads to emotional depletion. Set and stick to the boundaries you put around yourself.
  • Get up and move. Take a break from your preparations or even a social gathering by going on a short walk. Getting that break will help you gain perspective, get your blood flowing and release mood-boosting endorphins.
  • Make sure you’re getting time for laughter and play. Invite people you love to do something fun. After all, the holidays should be a time for joy and merriment.

If aware and intentional, there is so much we can do to make the holidays less stressful. Let me invite you to take a few minutes, now, to make your plan to make this holiday season a “most wonderful time of the year.”

Happy holidays

 


About Roger K. Allen
Roger K. Allen, Ph.D. is an expert in personal transformation and family development. His tools and methods have helped tens of thousands of people live happier and more effective lives. To learn more, visit www.rogerkallen.com>.

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