The holiday season abounds with fun, family, friends, and food in spite of the often colder, blustery weather. However, for some the season presents an emotional challenge that can be hard to overcome. Whether impacted by the loss of a loved one, the stress of a social event, or just the shorter daylight hours, the holidays can lead to serious depression or addiction if stress is not managed appropriately. If you are feeling like the holidays bring more darkness than light, continue reading for some tips to help you through it.
Do something fun. Fun can seem like hard work when you are feeling blue or overwhelmed. It’s often the last thing you think about, and the last solution you want to try. Regardless, it is important to fight the urge to avoid fun, and force yourself into it. Taking a short walk to view the decorations in your neighborhood, making cookies, or joining friends for an open-skate session at your local ice rink may not solve all your problems, but it is sure to relieve at least some stress. Likewise, it’s easy to write off decorating your own space as just another chore, but taking the time to decorate for the holidays can add some sparkle and be uplifting. Even if you are the only one who will see it, the positive impact it will have is worth the time and effort.
Plan a trip to somewhere warmer. While modern travel can certainly add its own layer of stress for the underprepared, the mental health benefits far outweigh the planning efforts involved. Escaping the day to day routine can make you feel refreshed, and ready to start the new year on a positive note. While you can certainly go somewhere that is literally warmer, don’t discount a trip to see family or friends, which can be a great source of stress relief as well. Being around family and friends can give you warm feelings of love and security regardless of the weather outside. Just be sure to avoid spending time with folks who might encourage substance abuse or other non-productive activities as stress management solutions.
Use the weather to your advantage. If you are one of the many people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder this can be especially important, as the condition can quickly snowball out of control and lead to serious issues such as depression and addiction. Prevent the condition from getting worse by getting outside: humans aren’t meant to hibernate, and doing so can worsen your condition. If skiing is outside your budget, don’t be afraid to resort to childhood activities to help you find a way to enjoy the winter weather. Try building a snowman or making a snow angel. If you need affiliation to keep you motivated in the cold try organizing a neighborhood snowball fight, or heading to the local sledding/tubing hill. If physical activities are beyond your means, try sip some hot cocoa while you watch others to enjoy the positive, contagious effects of their laughter.
Keep indulgences to a minimum. Whether that means alcohol or cookies, it’s easy to overdo it during the holidays. With nearly constant access to high calorie foods and drinks at holiday events, it’s important to remember the impact that diet has on both mood and overall health. Establish healthy limits in advance, and create a plan to keep yourself on track. Actively avoiding overindulgence is a good countermeasure for addiction, and helps avoid the holiday weight gain that can cause stress to carry over into the new year.
Making the most of the holidays can be a real challenge when you are feeling down. Whether you are fighting a known ailment or are just down in the dumps this year, remember that you are in charge of the outcome. Force yourself to have some fun, alone or with friends. Press reset by taking a trip, and escaping the routine. Find a way to enjoy the winter weather, instead of hiding from it. Maintain a healthy diet, and avoid addictive substances. By being firm with yourself about the impact that small decisions have on how you feel, you’ll be able to eliminate a significant amount of the stressors that might prevent you from enjoying the wonderful attributes of the holiday season.