‘Tis the season to feel stressed and depressed if you suffer from mental health issues. Fa-la-la-la-la…
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, or nothing in particular, the holiday season is supposed to be joyful time.
From Halloween right through New Year’s, we’re awash in shiny decorations, twinkling lights, celebrations, and high expectations for family togetherness, romance, and magical moments we’ll remember forever.
But what if your life doesn’t look like a Hallmark movie? Join the club: nobody’s does. The holiday season, though it’s packaged to look like a glittering good time for all, is actually one of the worst times of the year for lots of us.
Those who are recently divorced, grieving a loss, suffering financial stress, battling an addiction, or dealing with mental illness are especially vulnerable to the “holiday blues.” And although the idea that suicide rates peak during the holidays turns out to be a myth, it’s true that this time of year can exacerbate anxiety and depression in anyone who is prone to it – and cause it in those who normally aren’t.
Because the holidays are a busy time, and because no one wants to feel like crap, here are 17 quick ways to combat the creeping dread you experience when we’re all supposed to be feeling so jolly and merry. One of them is bound to work for you…
1. Practice gratitude
Close your eyes and think of three things you’re grateful for. Get specific and really focus on them. It’s hard to be miserable and thankful at the same time.
Science has shown that when you exercise your zygomaticus and orbicularis oculi muscles – that is, when you smile – it actually triggers your brain to feel happier. So go ahead and grin, even if you don’t have a reason.
3. Turn up the volume
On your favorite song, that is. Playing music is a great way to give yourself a little lift. (Hint: it doesn’t have to be a Christmas carol.)
4. Dance it out
To feel even better, get on your feet and dance while you’re playing that song. Rock out and work up a sweat – those endorphins will start flowing fast.
5. Go outside
Never underestimate the power of fresh air and sunshine.
6. Make a plan
Sure, we’re all overscheduled during the holidays, but making a plan to do something special just for you will give you something to look forward to.
7. Log out
Taking a break from your social media feeds, even for five minutes, can improve your mood. Immersing yourself in everyone else’s cheery holiday posts and updates is a surefire way to end up feeling like the Grinch.
8. Reach out
Text a friend just to say hi. Throw in a bunch of random cute emojis that make you smile. It’ll make their day a little brighter – which will make you feel better, too.
9. Shake things up
Change up your routine by walking a different way to work, having something new for breakfast, or laying out your mat at a different spot in yoga class. Small changes like this have a way of helping us feel more awake to the world around us.
10. Buy something
Spend money on someone besides yourself: research shows it can actually improve your mood more than spending money on yourself. So pick up a treat for someone next time you’re at the shops.
11. Do something
Instead of spending money, you can always opt to do something nice for someone – it works just as well. Bring your neighbor’s paper in, bake cupcakes for the office, or give your partner a backrub: it doesn’t take much time to do a good deed.
12. Don’t think ahead
Next time you catch yourself worrying about the future, stop. Keep your focus on the here and now, and don’t freak out about what might happen down the road. The end of the year is a time when it’s tempting to take stock of our lives and make harsh judgments. Staying in the moment is the antidote to this kind of crazy-making thinking.
13. Skip something
Go ahead, cancel those plans you’re stressing out about. Stay home with your cat, your partner, your Netflix account, or whatever makes you feel safe and happy. The world won’t end because you missed a holiday party/family dinner/online date.
14. Eat your spinach
Or anyway, eat something green. Too much sugar and other holiday junk food can have a real impact on your mood. Give your body something healthy, and your brain will thank you.
15. Read a book
Now is the time for all those year-end lists of the best books. Pick one up, turn off your phone, and read a chapter.
16. Write it out
If you’re feeling anxious, journaling for a few minutes can help clear your head and get your thoughts in order. Pick up a pen and put your worries on paper: they’ll be easier to face that way.
17. Let something go
Is there something you feel obligated to do every holiday season, but that you consistently dread? A grudge you’re holding against a friend or family member? A hurt or disappointment that still stings? Consider whether you can let go of it this year. Once you decide to release it, it only takes a few seconds to set it down.
Image via pexels.com.
Comment: Does the holiday season get you down? How do you deal with it?