Put the “Happy” Back in Happy Holidays

I’m not generally a gloomy person, but my holiday depression can start with Halloween candy and last practically until the final chocolate Easter egg is consumed. That’s a long time, and I’ve had a long time to figure out what to do about it. To try and beat my own blues, I put lights on my house sometime around Halloween, and drag them down some time around; you guessed it, Easter, when the natural lights seem to come back on.

That’s not my only idea though. I have more, and some of them may even work for you, but first, let’s talk about what causes Holiday Blues?

Many things can contribute to the “Holiday Blues” such as stress, fatigue, unrealistic expectations, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends. And the demands of shopping, parties, family reunions, and houseguests don’t seem to help. If that’s not enough to make you depressed maybe you develop other stress responses, such as: headaches, excessive drinking, over-eating, or difficulty sleeping. Or, maybe you’re one of those people who experience post-holiday let down after January 1, because the holidays were just plain disappointing, and you are stressed and tired to boot.

Here are some tips for coping with stress and depression during the upcoming holidays. Take a big relaxing breath, and imagine how you might incorporate one or two into your holiday plan.

First: Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize. Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. I’m serious about this. Handmade gifts for all 125 family members sounds like a good idea in July, but if you didn’t start then, it’s too late. Tattoo this phrase on your hand and read it often; “It’s okay to say NO”.

Second: Remember the holiday season does not eliminate reasons for feeling sad or lonely. See if you can create space for these feelings to be present, but not overwhelming. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in it’s own way. Spend as much time with supportive and caring people as you can, and if you’re really daring, reach out and make new friends or contact someone you have not heard from for awhile. It’s also wise to remind yourself that alcohol is a depressant, and excessive drinking will only increase your feelings of depression.

Finally: (I think this is the most important) Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share responsibility of activities. Tattoo this idea on your other hand, and read it just as often. Hopefully the people you love want to by with YOU, and you will be at your best if you are rested.

The holidays can be stressful, so keep this quote by Terence in mind;

“Moderation in all things.”

May your celebrations be filled with love.

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