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Why Holiday Blues and How To Beat It.

Holidays are supposed to be a happy time, opportunity to relax, take time off work, possibility to be with family and friends, go on vacation… Then why so many of us are experiencing stress and even blues?

I would like to present some reasons for holiday blues as well as some ideas on how to cope or minimized stress and depression  during  holidays.

Holidays are stressful for many reasons: there are demands such as parties, shopping, entertaining, endless gifts, not to mention pressure to be happy. Many of us have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and others, some are not able to be with our family or friends for financial or other reasons, there is financial stress that comes from over-commercialization and feelings of duty and expectations. Many suffer from a mild depression in winter anyway due to limited light (seasonal affective disorder). Finally, for some of us, holidays are sad because of a recent loss due to death or a breakup. Even past losses become more intense during the holiday season as we think of being with those who are no longer here during this time. Holidays are a time when feelings of loneliness if they are there, become more intense. Loneliness and loss are often at the root of all sadness and depression.

Here are some tips to help deal with holiday stress and depression:

– Don’t deny your feelings, feel them and acknowledge them. If you are going through a loss, or if there are reasons to feel sad, its OK. No one can force themselves to feel happy if they are not. Don’t put more pressure on yourself then you already feel.

– If you can, reach out. Think of everyone you may be able to connect with, go on a spiritual retreat or volunteer your time to help those who are in a much worse situation, this puts things in perspective quickly and makes you feel good that you were able to make someone else’s life better.

– Remember, holidays don’t have to be perfect every year. Every holiday season is different and its not helpful to compare. Life changes, families change, try not to hold on to past, but embrace what is now. If you are married or in a serious relationship, you may have to compromise this year and suck it up, go to your partner’s family and miss seeing yours. May be your best friend is not around this holiday, accept life as it is, do the best you can. If you are a couple with older married children, they may not be with you this holiday season, find a way to accept this and celebrate with those who ARE  around. Try to enjoy who you have around you, rather then dwell on who can not be with you now. This too may change next year.

– Many of us have financial stress during holiday time. Stick to a realistic budget. Don’t compare yourself with what others can spend.

– It’s a good idea to plan ahead in terms of shopping and entertaining. Last minute scrambling creates a lot of stress and takes whatever joy there is out of holiday season.

– Don’t abandon good self care habits like exercise, healthy eating, don’t use holidays as a reason to drink excessively,  get plenty of sleep. Say NO when its too much! Emotionally healthy living is a balance between caring for self and caring for others.

– Make sure you get some old sure proven activities in that make you feel good, whatever they may be. It can be as simple as watching a favorite movie, listening to music or curling up on a couch with a good book.

– Finally, if the sadness, blues or depression persist way after the holidays are over, may be its a good idea to seek professional help. This may be a full blown depression and it needs to be dealt with.

Let me know if you have other good tips or ideas so I can share them.