With Christmas only a week away, the holiday rush is in full swing. For some this means running around buying things that they can’t afford. It could mean packing in activities in an already over scheduled calendar. Some eat too much of the wrong things. Some drink too much. Some get overwhelmed with regret of what could have been. Some think about the losses of this year and years past. Some get caught up in the ads, movies, and happy scenes that don’t reflect their own life and feel depressed by comparison. If this is you, don’t worry. Here are some tips on how to beat the holiday blues.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and new year is the same day every year. You know it’s coming. You know what’s expected. Rather than rushing to get it all in at the last minute, pace yourself. Shop throughout the year. Make a to do list and spread errands out over the week instead of making a day of it. Getting a little done bit by bit is productive, yet it rarely leaves you feeling stressed out.
Ask For Help/Accept Help
If you are the one who traditionally does something, like put up the lights or make dinner, let someone else help. You don’t have to do it all. It’s often more fun and memorable to make things a group effort.
Let Go of Perfection
Sometimes the stress is about needing for things to be perfect. I’d bet if you looked back over your childhood, what you remember isn’t perfectly wrapped packages and a color coordinated tree and house. It’s the love, right? Let the love show. Nobody will care if your house is perfectly clean, your meal looks like a magazine spread, or everyone has matching pajamas.
Let Go of “Supposed To’s”
All happiness is based on unfavorable comparisons. If you are thinking that Christmas is “supposed to” be about happy families and Currier and Ives moments, you are probably setting yourself up for misery. There are all sorts of ways to be happy. It’s nice to have picture perfect moments on film. It’s nicer to have a good time. Set a new standard by doing your holidays your way.
Maintain Your Self Care Routine
With so many parties happening, it’s tempting to over eat and drink too much. Don’t let this throw you off your routine. Your body has the same requirements all year round. If you overdo it, it can be hard to get back on track. Eating poorly can be a huge setback to your mood as well. Going without sleep can run you down quickly. Pay attention. If your body says, “Don’t do that,” don’t do it.
When Charlie Brown talks to Lucy about his Christmas blues, she says he needs involvement. She’s right. Participate. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or toy drive can cheer you up while helping others. Helping the elderly put up a tree means more than you know. Singing carols at a retirement home is another way you can share the spirit. How about decorating your home or office? If you tend to feel wiped out by the whole Christmas thing, think of the parts you enjoy and just do those.
Remember the Reason for the Season
There is a lot of commercialism around the holidays. You can’t blame manufacturers for trying to make a buck, but you don’t have to let that ruin your holiday spirit. Remember the reason for the season. Thanksgiving is not about Black Friday sales, but about gratitude. Christmas is not about what you got, but what you gave. (Love, not stuff). New years is about beginning again, not filling yourself with grief over the past. Gratitude, renewal, and giving don’t have to cost anything. Focusing on these things can help you beat the holiday blues.
Be Present With Your Feelings
Sometimes people stay busy to avoid their feelings. These suggestions are not meant to be used as an escape from your feelings. If you are feeling low, notice it. Feel it. Allow it to move through you and communicate what it needs to tell you. Maybe you need to slow down. Maybe you need to work on repairing a relationship. Maybe you need to do a better job of self care. Whatever it is, it won’t kill you to notice it. Sometimes feelings just want to be felt. You feel them and they go away. Sometimes they are there to help you get to a better place. It’s up to you do either address that issue or put it off for another time, but the more you allow yourself to feel (rather than push your feelings away), the easier it will be to tolerate emotions and reality. Remember that feelings are never the problem. They are only a symptom of the problem.
When life is overwhelming, it’s often because things have gotten out of focus. We let something (the holidays, perhaps?) become larger than life while other things shrink. If you step back and look at the big picture, it can give you perspective. Whatever is troubling you, it’s just a moment in time. I promise you that in a month, year, or decade, it will not have the same importance that it does right now. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and new year are just one day out of 365. It’s only a big deal if you make it one. So step back. Take in everything in your life in this moment. See all the good, bad, and common. I bet that when you see things in perspective, this moment is actually pretty okay.
Connect to Your Spirituality
Holidays are often most enjoyable when you allow spirituality to be a part of it. Whether you are alone or with ten others, surrounded by comfort and beauty or in a hovel, your spirituality is with you always. It’s always available to you, whether others share your beliefs or connection or not. At the core of all spirituality is love. So love.
Accept That It Is What it Is
If there is some aspect of the holidays that you have no control over, accept that it is what it is. It’s not personal. It’s not the end of the world. You will get through this. That’s true whether your famous cheesecake didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to or your boyfriend just broke up with you. It’s not to make light of it. I am just saying that you can’t change it. Accepting it takes away the resistance which allows healing to begin. If you are in a place of acceptance, you can feel sad about the things that are sad while still enjoying the parts of life that are happy.
Holiday blues don’t have to happen to you. There are many things you can do to avoid them or dissolve them. The first step is awareness. Once you are aware of your feelings, you can begin to address them. If your feeling are long lasting and not easily dismissed, you could need professional help. Let me know if I can help.