The holiday season can be a magical time filled with experiences that can create lasting special memories. However, it can also be a time filled with unnecessary stress and subsequent depression due to the number of demands on our time, loneliness, and the gloomy weather (depending on where you reside).
People often overindulge in junk food and alcohol, overextend themselves in terms of social obligations, and feel financial pressure from finding that “perfect” gift. I think it’s always important to stay aware of your emotional health, but it’s especially crucial over the holiday season when we’re all a little more at risk of buying into the hype regarding how the retail industry defines the meaning of the season.
Below are some tips to help you get through the holiday season unscathed (cute pet pictures are sure to help. Who doesn’t love a dog in a Santa hat?):
10Tips to Beat the Holiday Blues
Make a plan. My regular followers know that I love a good plan and that I’m a list person. However, I think both are valuable tactics for anyone to leverage during the holidays. Once you clearly set out what you want to accomplish, how much money you’re able to spend, and which social functions you will attend, you will feel a lot more organized and less stressed. Then, it’s just a matter of following your plan!
Stick to a budget. The strength of your love for those in your life is not measured by how much money you spend on them. If you are putting yourself in debt or into a bad financial situation just to purchase gifts, then you really need to rethink your strategy. No one is going to expect you to make your financial health suffer on their behalf (and if they do, you also need to rethink who is in your life).
Say “no” when you need to. Many people are asked to a myriad of social functions, some of which compete with each other. If you are not able (or willing) to attend every gathering, then you need to set boundaries and limitations on the access that people have to your time. Your own well-being needs to come first and if there is something that you are unable to do, don’t want to do, or would cause you too much stress to do, then just say no!
Create new traditions. Many of us have wonderful holiday memories from when we were children. The season is especially magical for little ones, but that can often leave people feeling like something is missing after they grow up. Since you’re not the same person you were when you were 5, the holidays aren’t going to be the same either. I think it’s so important to make new traditions and find new and fun things to do every year that will make the holidays meaningful for you no matter what your stage of life is.
Maintain your healthy lifestyle. The holiday season is often full of junk food that may taste great but offers little to no nutritional value. In the same way that I’d never advocate a woman using pregnancy to “eat whatever she wants,” I don’t think the holidays should be anyone’s excuse to overindulge either.
I think it’s unrealistic to say that people won’t have any treats, but try not to deviate from your usual healthy habits too much. It will only cause you to feel sluggish and make it more difficult to get back into your routine come January. It could also cause unwanted weight gain and no one wants that!
If you aren’t able (or willing) to hit the gym as regularly as you usually would, squeeze in a few at home workouts (even short ones) just to stay active and avoid losing your momentum. If you need some inspiration, check out my 30 Day Fitness Challenge.
Find an enjoyable winter activity. If you live in a climate that gets cold in the winter like I do, then you know that being outside when it’s freezing isn’t always the most fun thing to do. However, if you can find a winter activity that you enjoy, it can make the holidays a lot more bearable. Find some time to get outside and take a walk, snowshoe, ski, snowboard, skate, build a snowman, or participate in any other activity that you are interested in.
Manage your expectations. Real life isn’t a storybook. The holidays can be a special time, but not everyone is close with their families (geographically or emotionally), has the extra money to spend on gifts, or gets into the spirit of the season in terms of decorating, baking, and being a social butterfly. Just because it’s December doesn’t mean that people are going to change or that life is going to be different.
Be realistic about the holidays and don’t raise your expectations of the people in your life to the point of being unreasonable. If you’re expecting everything to be perfect and run smoothly, then you’re only going to be disappointed because real life is rarely, if ever, perfect.
Get involved when you can and seek support if you need to. If you’re in a situation where you will be alone over the holidays, have a sick friend or relative, or had someone in your life recently pass away, then please make sure that you are kind to yourself and don’t feel obligated to fake happiness.
However, while it may be tempting to hide away, I don’t feel that isolation helps anyone. If you’re invited out, consider attending some social functions and getting involved in the activities that hold appeal for you. If you aren’t invited out, then take it upon yourself to check out some church or community functions that will allow you to be around others.
If you feel like you need professional assistance, speak to your doctor or a counselor. Grams attended grief counseling when my father passed away and she found it very helpful. She also made a lasting friendship with a wonderful lady, which is an added bonus.
Take some time out for yourself. The holiday season can be filled with hustle and bustle, but make sure that you schedule in some down time for yourself. Whether you want to read, relax, exercise, or just do nothing, make sure that you are giving yourself breaks as required.
Remember what you have to be grateful for. It can be easy to get caught up in the stress of the season and start to throw pity parties for yourself. However, if you keep in mind what you do have to be thankful for, and maybe even spend some time volunteering with those less fortunate, then you will receive a healthy dose of perspective. Usually, whatever it is that’s bothering you, whether it’s long lineups at the mall or annoying in-laws overstaying their welcome, it is not that bad in the grand scheme of things.
What are your strategies to get through the holiday season?