The holidays can be a time of great joy. Ideally, the end of the year is a time of reflection and fun with family and friends. But for some, instead of holiday bliss, the stresses and obligations of the season bring on the holiday blues.
Why would people get depressed during such a “happy” time? There are plenty of reasons. While celebrating, we are also likely to reflect on loved ones who are no longer here. In addition, we might feel obligated to “make the rounds,” traveling miles to attend family functions.
With so many parties and big meals, this is also a time when we tend to overindulge in food and drink. It might be fun in the moment, but can lead to regret and even a sense of guilt or shame.
Others might go a little overboard with gifts—for themselves and others. We max out credit cards, which leads to its own kind of financial hangover. All of this can drain our happiness during the holidays and lead to feelings of being overwhelmed or out of balance.
Here are some things you can do to keep the blues at bay and to thrive during this season.
1. Reach out
The holidays are a time to lean on your support system and talk to folks about how you feel. Don’t let geographic isolation hinder you; be creative in ways to connect with family and friends. Technology has given us many tools to use to stay connected, but sometimes we can feel isolated even when we’re online. Pick up the phone and actually call someone. Better yet, throw a casual event at home and invite over people you’ve been meaning to see.
2. Give back
There are plenty in need during the holiday. Spend some time exploring ways you can give back and assist others through the holidays. Find something that involves the whole family; these opportunities can lead to a greater sense of gratitude for the blessings in our own lives. Be a blessing yourself; serving others takes your eyes off your own struggles and puts things in perspective.
3. Remember the great times
This may be the first holiday you are celebrating without a loved one. Take this time to highlight and remember what was great about that person. Reminisce about the good times and talk to other family and friends that suffered the same or similar losses. The holidays are a great time to get with others to talk about joyful times from the past, as well as creating new memories in the moment.
4. Keep spending in check
There is no shortage of opportunities to spend money during the holidays. Be careful to set a budget and do your best to stick within it. Plan accordingly and use your imagination to come up with ways to create awesome memories at a low cost.
Get creative and make some of your gifts this year. The time spent in building and creating something will be appreciated by your family. For white elephant gift exchange parties, set dollar limits for the gifts so people don’t feel like they need to out-do each other.
5. Kick the comparisons
Many take to the holidays with an observant eye, constantly looking at what others are doing and comparing their lifestyles. Focus on the awesome things in your life and celebrate the successes of others.
You are where you are for a reason. Don’t get overwhelmed by the fact that others may have or do more. Enjoy your family; really connect during conversation by listening to what others are saying and appreciating the people that are around you.
6. Take care of yourself
During these dark and chilly months, make sure you get your fair share of sunlight and exercise. Get outdoors as much as possible and soak in the scenery.
It’s tempting to hibernate, but try to stay active. Get to the gym for some cardio at least three times a week. This will keep your spirits up—and you won’t feel as bad about the second serving of dressing!
With all of the fun to be had over the holiday season, make sure you stay well-rested. A good night’s sleep helps improve your mood, and gives you more energy to engage and connect with others.
Dr. Clarence Lee is an author, speaker, physician and entrepreneur. To learn more about Dr. Lee, visit www.cmleejr.com.