The holidays are upon us. Chances are you are knee deep in wrapping paper, lists, bills, cards, party invitations…and sugar. Your head is spinning from all the things you have to get done – get done NOW, and get done well.
Let’s stop for a minute. Look around. Take a deep breath. Put things into perspective. The holidays are not all about the goodies, or the gifts. It is about being together, and doing good for others.
It is also the time of the year when depression is on the rise — people are missing loved ones, or feeling the sting of times past. Not to mention the weather — less sunlight and cold temperatures forcing you indoors can be big contributors in managing mood.
So, what do you do to ward off the holiday blues? To embrace the simple joys of the season?
Avoid the Holiday Blues
1.) Stick to normal routines as much as possible. If you take a dance class every Monday night, or take part in a book club or other activity, keep it up. Switching things up too much can make things more stressful. Plus healthy activity is good for you.
2.) Get enough sleep. You want that holiday card to be perfect, but don’t sacrifice sleep editing your photos. Your family and friends need you more than they need your picture.
3.) Take time for yourself. We stress this one a lot in the counseling world, and there is good reason. Spending time doing things that make you happy help you manage stressors in a healthy way, and allow you to be your best you.
4.) Eat and drink in moderation. It might sound fun to eat all the cookies, or drink all the rum punch but when you don’t feel great the next day it will make even the simplest tasks harder. If you are feeling down, don’t turn to alcohol — it usually makes things worse in the long run.
5.) Get exercise. A simple walk around the mall, or a few jumping jacks to increase your heart rate can do leaps for your mood and your immune system.
6.) Make a to-do list. Lists can help you manage all the things you have to keep track of during the season. It will ease your stress, and allow you to put the millions of things going through your brain on the back burner and take time for you.
7.) Be reasonable. Don’t overdo it. If it is going to be too much to cook and host a holiday party, then maybe just host and don’t do the cooking. Be realistic about your time and stress level, and remember it is ok to say NO.
8.) Set a budget. It is easy to let things get out of control this time of year. If you have a budget you can avoid those dreadful bill opening moments and feel confident you are in a good place.
9.) Relax. Spend time with those you care about. Listen to music. Have movie watching marathons with your kids.
10.) Do something nice for someone else. It will make you feel good, and help another family have a happier holiday season.
This time of year can be what you make it. It can be joyous, but it can also be full of sadness and anxiety. Accept that it is ok to get help if you need it. Our counselors have openings if you need someone to help put things into perspective, and teach you healthy coping skills. Call 717-462-7003 ext. 1 to schedule an appointment.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.