TMH Living Well: Keeping the happy in holidays
December 19, 2014
It may seem counterintuitive, but the holidays — filled with joy and warmth — are a prime time for feeling sad, lonely, stressed or even depressed. Here are 10 ways to beat the blues this season.
1. Define your own holiday
Very few people's holidays look like a Norman Rockwell painting, but all the glitz and media buzz of the holidays makes us think ours should. Remind yourself that your holiday can look exactly as you want it. Do a litmus test with holiday events. Limit those that feel like obligations and do more of what you want.
2. Know that loss is a part of holidays
Holidays remind people of what they don't have — loved ones who have passed, family members who have moved away, kids who are growing up, worries about not having money to spend and more. Holidays have a way of showing us what's missing in our lives. Don't ignore those feelings when they arise. Acknowledge them then ask yourself what you feel grateful for.
3. Stick to a budget
Sadness around the holidays only gets worse if you overspend. If the gift-giving feels overwhelming, propose for next year that you draw names within the family, or just buy for kids. Consider giving homemade gifts or vouchers for favors — child care, dog walks or gardening come spring.
4. Manage your stress
If you feel overwhelmed or your family dynamics become too much to bear, take time for yourself. Even a few minutes to take a walk, read, call a friend or listen to music can help calm you down and shift your mood.
5. Call on your support system
We love our families, but maybe we don't always love how they act or how we feel around them. During the holidays, be in touch frequently with those who know you best.
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6. Take care of yourself
Stress and depression get worse with poor sleep, lack of exercise and a bad diet. Even if it feels hard to resist desserts or find time to take your usual walk or trip to the gym, fit it in. It may not solve everything, but it will help keep things on a more even keel.
7. Get outside
With the shortest days of the year right around Christmas, we lack exposure to sunlight. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a proven phenomenon. Make it a point to get outside during the day and soak in the sun despite the cold.
8. Don't go it alone
If you are already feeling depressed, getting motivated to organize a family gathering or schedule an event can feel impossible. Make it easier by asking for help. If you are not up to hosting, see if someone else can do it this year. Or, have everyone pitch in and bring something to share.
9. Let go of perfect
So your lights look like your toddler hung them or your Christmas cards are late (or not planned at all). Or, you usually serve your walnut blueberry coffee cake Christmas morning but you simply don't have the time or energy this year. It's OK. There's always next year to be an overachiever.
10. Plan some fun
Maybe you'd much rather go sledding with the grandkids than hang out with the adults drinking wine. Do it. Or break tradition and go skiing on Christmas Day. Holidays bring that much needed break from work and routine, so take advantage of it and have some fun.
If your holiday blues feel more like depression, see your doctor. Signs of depression include feeling sad, empty, tired and having trouble thinking. They also include no longer enjoying things you always enjoyed, isolation, headaches or aches and pains, changes in appetite, angry outbursts, thoughts of suicide and not wanting to get out of bed in the morning. The blues can last a few weeks, depression lasts longer.
This weekly article with tips on living well is sponsored by The Memorial Hospital at Craig – improving the quality of life for the communities we serve through patient-centered health care and service excellence.