25 Dec Holiday “Blues”? You Can Beat Them and Here’s How!
“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” — Unknown
Here we are again, another Holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving and ending on January 1. Everywhere we go, we are inundated with images and music representing holiday joy, generosity, peace on earth and goodwill to all mankind. For many of us, it is indeed a time of joy and hope, but in a poll conducted by About.com, more than 80% of us find the holiday season to be “somewhat” or “very” stressful — that ranks navigating the holidays right up there with interviewing for a new job or asking for a raise! What is it that causes us all to be so hot and bothered? The images of blissfully happy couples and families with children sitting around the fireplace may be a trigger for someone who may not have that in their life, but many other factors can contribute to the holiday blues. Some contributing factors include fatigue, unrealistic expectations and financial difficulties. Along with our usual work and household obligations, there are the parties to attend and shopping trips to make. Cramming so many more activities into our day is indeed a stress and anxiety booster. We may feel the pressure to be generous to our friends and family, but worrying about extended family, co-workers, the doorman, hairdresser, etc., makes it hard to know when to draw the line. Also, many of us have lost loved ones who represented a large part of enjoying the holidays. This can also be truly painful. On top of all that, there is more traffic, parking is nowhere to be found and the stores are over crowded! All these factors combined can contribute to what is commonly referred to as the “holiday blues”. Symptoms of the blues include feelings of sadness, loneliness, stress, anger and tension. You may experience changes in sleep patterns, headaches, excessive alcohol consumption, overeating and feelings of guilt. It all comes down to this: Many of us have unrealistic expectations of the holiday season and what we are “supposed” to feel. We think that we should be able to do everything, buy everyone on our list the gifts they deserve, and at the same time, be joyful….even though we may not feel that way! You can enjoy the holidays and every season by simply changing your approach. Recognize the demands you are placing on yourself, change your routine, and I promise your holiday will be less stressful. First, have a talk with your family or a loved one. Make a plan based on what is really important to all of you. Don’t just assume that they need that expensive gift. If you find that you are invited to too many holiday parties, plan your time realistically. Don’t feel obligated to attend events that cause more headaches than merriment. Make a budget and stick to it! Write out in advance exactly how much money you have in your budget for everyone on your list. Remember, using your imagination can cut down on many of the expensive price tags. For instance, it’s so easy to make your own gift basket. Fill a basket or pail with items found in your local grocery, add a bottle or two of wine, cover it with decorative paper, and voila! You’ve saved an enormous amount of money. My mom used to make the most delicious homemade chocolates. She’d wrap them in homemade gift bags and give them out to bank tellers, doctors, nurses and the staff at my husband’s office. Never underestimate the power of a gift made from the heart! If you have absolutely no extra money to spend this season, don’t beat yourself up. Sharing photos and memories with relatives is another wonderful way to show you care. Maybe you can visit a nursing home. You’d be amazed how much better you feel when you give of yourself and help those less fortunate. This is the true spirit of the holidays! I’ve said this in many of my other articles, but it holds true for the holidays as well. Choose to surround yourself with supportive and positive people! Misery loves company, and there are many holiday “Scrooges”who would love to have you share their view of the world. Say, “bah humbug” to them! If you are feeling lonely, there are plenty of ways to make friends. Besides Facebook and other social media outlets, there are many groups and organizations to join in order to meet like minded people. By sitting alone and feeling sorry for yourself, you are only making matters worse. Take the first step. You’d be surprised how many people out there are waiting to meet you! Set healthy limits. One of the reasons we get down during the holidays is because we “let ourselves go”. We tell ourselves that it’s the holiday, so we might as well eat, drink and be merry! That’s fine…in moderation. The more you let yourself go, the more miserable you will become. Promise yourself that you will stop at one cookie, avoid high calorie drinks (like egg nog), and limit your intake of finger foods which can pile on the calories. Over indulging at the holidays adds to fatigue and low energy. Remember also that exercise is a great anti-depressant. If you haven’t started an exercise regimen, this is THE time to start! You can do anything from Yoga, boxing, pilates, anything that you enjoy. I personally love dancing, but you can try different forms of exercise until you find the one you will commit to each and every day for at least 30 minutes. Not only will you feel less “blue”, but you’ll be physically healthier too! Find joy in the simple things each day. Make a mental or written list of things in your past that you remember as pleasurable. For me, I think of my parents taking us to Montreal to visit all my relatives over the holidays. I can still smell the aroma of the baking breads and cakes coming from my grandmother’s oven, and the feeling of jumping into the freshly fallen snow and sledding around Mont Royal. Thinking back to an uplifting memory can reinstate the same feeling of joy that you felt at the time. You can also learn how to meditate, which can be a great way to release stress. Close your eyes and breathe deeply from the abdomen for 5-10 minutes each day. Allow all your stressful thoughts to drift off. In the end, the most important thing you can do to overcome the blues is to practice gratitude. Even if you lost someone dear to you and they can’t be with you this year to celebrate, be grateful for the time you had with them and the memories you have accumulated. Value everything in your life, even the holiday “chores”. Look for the silver lining, not the gold medal! I would like to end this by wishing you all peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, and good health to you and yours! Happy Holidays!! Susan
Copyright 2013 Susan Korwin