The holiday season is upon us once again. Around this time of year people either get really excited and start cooking, caroling, and decorating their pretty little hearts out or they start complaining about all the people bouncing around fa la la la la’ing all chipper and giddy. But for others it goes much deeper than that. Some people have an intense dread for the holidays due to strained or lost relationships, anniversary dates of a traumatic event, financial stressors, or some other negative experience that coincides with the holiday season. Combine this with the fact that the holidays occur in the cold and rainy winter months and it’s no wonder depression and suicide rates soar during this time of year. So, with that being said, what can you do now to overcome the dreaded holiday blues? Below are five easy things that you can do now to beat the holiday blues…
1. Do Volunteer Work
I know, I know… this probably seems sort of cliché since the holiday season is the peak time for volunteer work and donations anyway. However, giving of yourself through volunteer work and being a source of joy to others can actually be very helpful in providing you with a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Helping out at a homeless shelter, volunteering time at a nursing home, or any other activity that helps those in need can be the boost you need to improve your overall mood. Giving back is a great way to help others while also helping yourself. So why not set aside 1-2 hours just to try it out and see how it makes you feel?
2. Get Moving
The cold and rainy months can leave you stuck on your couch with your cozy blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and the remote control watching every Netflix series that looks interesting. The delicious comfort foods that the holidays bring are also calling your name. Your summer exercise routine may have hit a brick wall and not only do the pounds start to creep up but your mood takes a nose dive. Exercise is the perfect mood booster as it releases tons of endorphins into your body which triggers a positive feeling. Simply setting aside 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week to get your body moving can make all the difference. This does not have to be anything strenuous or intense. Simply walking at a brisk pace can make a big difference.
3. Focus on the Positives
If you’re like me and you really don’t like the holiday season, it can be so easy to focus on all the negatives that come with this time of year. The amount of money being spent on gifts, that annoying family member that you would rather not be around, or the sucky weather are just some of the many negatives that you can choose to focus on. In contrast, you can instead choose to focus on the positives, such as the precious time with family and friends, the time off from work, and the amazing memories being created. Challenge yourself to intentionally work on finding the positives. Look for the silver lining in every situation and watch how quickly your mood improves.
4. Create a Budget (And Stick To It)
Materialism has taken over the holiday season in many ways. Some people cave under peer pressure and feel the need to spend a lot of money on gifts to prove their love and gratitude to others. There is nothing particularly wrong with this if your financial situation allows for this. But, for many people this is simply not a wise choice for them financially. So many people max out their credit cards, take out loans, or get behind on other bills during the holiday season. This leaves them stressed out and in a ton of debt. Creating a budget and sticking to it can be very helpful in saving money and keeping stress levels down. You can also let your loved ones know up front that you have a budget that you will be sticking to this year. Those that truly love and care about you will definitely understand this. Some people even choose to not exchange gifts at all, opting instead to simply spend time with their loved ones. You should definitely do what works best for you while ensuring that you aren’t putting your family in a financial bind that leaves you stressed out, depressed, and broke!
5. Practice Mindfulness
How many times have you been driving somewhere and arrived at your destination unable to recall how you actually got there? In this fast pace world that we live in, we oftentimes find ourselves multi-tasking with a million things on our mind at once. This can really affect your mood and leave you feeling irritated and stressed. Practicing mindfulness can really help to decrease stress and improve your overall mood. Mindfulness can be as simple as taking the time to really enjoy a warm hug from your grandmother, or putting your phone down and really listening to your excited niece tell you all about her new bike (while expressing genuine heartfelt interest), or simply savoring the delicious taste of a slice of sweet potato pie. With so many distractions constantly vying for our attention and so many upcoming events to be anxious about, being fully present in the current moment is a gift that we should all appreciate and take full advantage of while we have the opportunity to do so. Being present in these moments and being grateful for them is an instant mood boost.
Are you one of those people who absolutely loves the holidays or do you turn into the Grinch around this time of year? What are some ways that you get past the holiday blues? Please share!