It’s called the most wonderful time of the year, yet for many the holidays spark a time depression, deep sadness and anxiety. A variety of factors can create these feelings for folks known as the “holiday blues”. For some it may be because of the stress of holiday shopping, and the various holiday events. For some it’s the financial stress that the season brings. For many it’s all of those demands of the season compounded by Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. Many may refer to this as “winter blues”. For many this time of year is especially difficult because it may remind us of losses we have experienced and people that are no longer in our lives or are far away. This can often lead us to feel especially lonely or trigger difficult memories or feelings. Although this time of year can present with these difficult feelings, there are some helpful tips to help manage and improve your mood.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Many people stuff their feelings away, however when you acknowledge what you might be feeling you can give yourself a chance to explore your feelings. Accepting the sadness allows us to be human. At different points in our lives we will experience a range of emotions. Once you acknowledge your feelings, you can grieve and find ways to cope.
One of the best ways to combat depression is to get moving, even when you don’t feel like it. When we exercise, our body produces endorphins, also known as the “feel good” chemicals. You may want to find a group class or group run, a spinning class, Zumba class or a yoga class. Even taking a brisk walk can help to lift your mood.
Seek Social Support
While we may feel like shutting down and isolating, seeking out support from those who care about us is important. Find friends or family members to talk to or spend time with.
Limit Social Media
While Social Media allows us to connect with others, it can also make us feel worse and even more isolated. Many people use social media to brag or post only their positive experiences which can make us feel like we are missing out or can cause us to make negative comparisons. Instead reach out to family and friends who can provide you with more genuine and authentic updates and support.
Reframe Your Thoughts
Sometimes just a shift in our thinking can change the way we might feel. Remember that feelings can be temporary and the holiday season will pass. Consider a gratitude journal to remind yourself of the little things are you thankful for.
Do Something You Love
Create some down time just for yourself. Engage in a physical activity, engage spiritual practice, or find a way to pamper yourself. Consider taking a mindfulness yoga class or getting a massage or pedicure. If money is a barrier, taking a long walk , watching your favorite movie, inhaling a favorite scent or reading a book can be calming.
Do Something for Someone Else
Sometimes the mere act of doing something for someone else in need can help to remind us to feel good about ourselves. Consider volunteering at a soup kitchen, or reading to seniors or any cause that you may want to support.
Maintain Healthy Habits
Take care of yourself. This means not over indulging in food or drinks. Find nutritious meals to eat and be mindful of how much you’re drinking. Practice good self care.
Say a Prayer or Meditate
Regardless of what your religious of spiritual beliefs are, praying or meditation can be powerful. Tapping into a higher power can help us to feel an enormous sense of peace or calm.
Honor Your Loved Ones
The holidays can remind us of losses. Find time to honor or celebrate loved ones in a symbolic way. Consider visiting a cemetery, lighting a candle, writing a letter, sharing happy memories with family members or friends.
Sometimes seeking professional provides a safe space to explore your feelings with a trained professional. Therapy can offer strategies and coping skills to address unresolved feelings as well as help you to find ways to cope.