For some, “it’s the happiest time of year,” filled with family get-togethers, good food and time to sit back and reflect on all there is to be grateful for. But for many people, the holiday season brings with it stress, anxiety, sadness, and hopelessness, leading to cases of holiday all in the blue.
“A lot of people around the holidays want everything to be perfect. Otherwise, it causes them stress and anxiety,” said James Conti, a psychologist with the Memorial Health Care System in Hollywood, Florida.
Holiday blues can be caused by a variety of factors, according to the National Mental Health Association, including:
- Unrealistic expectations
- Over commercialization
- Financial constraints
- Inability to be with family and friends
- Shopping demands, parties, family reunions and house guests
Holiday blues can include more than just feelings of stress and sadness. Loneliness, uncertainty about the future, self-evaluation and reflection on past failures are common, causing symptoms such as headaches and trouble sleeping as well as reactions such as excessive drinking and overeating.
7 Steps to keep your spirits high during the holidays:
1). Keeping Your Spirit Bright
If you know you have a tendency to feel down around the holiday season (or after January 1, when all the fun ends), these tips can help you ward off stress and keep your spirits high.
2). Set Realistic Expectations
As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Nor will it be your “perfect” vacation. Try not to set all your expectations on just one day, but try to experience the holidays bit by bit throughout the season. Don’t be afraid to say no, and be free to delegate tasks to friends and family who want to help. Taking too much is guaranteed to send you down a path of anxiety instead of excitement
3). Leave The Past Behind You
Reminiscing about the “good old days” can bring up feelings of loss or a desire for things to be the way they used to be. Embrace change and find ways to enjoy the season the way it is now. Starting a new tradition is a good first step
4). Donate Your Time
Spending your time volunteering for others in need will help you share the holiday spirit and make you feel warm inside. Many people who volunteer report feeling a high level of well-being.
5). Try Some Free Creative Activities
Engaging in simple holiday activities is a great way to enjoy the season. Try walking around looking at holiday decorations, singing, baking cookies, decorating a gingerbread house, taking a brisk walk through a forest reserve, or building a snowman
6). Exercise Whenever Possible
“Don’t worry about sticking to your usual regimen,” says Howard Feldman, a clinical psychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Center for Integrative Medicine in Chicago. “Just put anything in. It can help and is better than not doing it at all.”
7). Avoid Overspending
According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, money problems are the top cause of stress for Americans around the holiday season. Try to make homemade gifts, give time gifts or name pictures so you’re only giving gifts to one or two people
Remember What’s Important. It’s easy to lose sight of the true meaning of the holiday season and get caught up in the more material aspects instead. Focus your efforts on family, friends, and other values that are important to you personally.
Take Time for Yourself. Having time to relax is essential for a great vacation. Don’t overlook this one!