Holidays are often thought of as a time of joy. Yet for many, the holidays are a time of stress and sadness. Some examples include:

  1. It being the first holidays after the death of a loved one with whom we typically celebrated the holidays.
  1. In a family of separation or divorce, when the children spend the holidays with the other parent, a sense of isolation and disconnect can occur.
  1. When financial difficulties or lack of time make gift giving feel like a chore.
  1. A busy social calendar with holiday parties can lead to less time for exercise and a greater opportunity to overindulge in unhealthy foods and alcohol.
  1. The sense of being “not good enough” when comparing our lives to others via social media sites like Facebook or Pinterest.

Expectations are high. Commitments are many. And we are bombarded by holiday cheer at every turn. So how can we avoid the holiday blues? Here are some tips:

  1. Take some time for reflection to explore why you are feeling blue. Too much alcohol. Not enough exercise. Feeling socially isolated. Once you realize the triggers for your feelings, you can take steps to address that particular area.
  1. Do not feel the need to attend every party to which you are invited. You are not obligated. Pick and choose the events that you feel you will enjoy. If you have to attend an event, such as a work party, you can always put in an appearance and say you have another party to attend.
  1. Connect with others, particularly if you are feeling isolated. Reach out to friends. Join a club. Attend a religious service. A quick search of the Internet will turn up plenty of opportunities.
  1. Start new traditions. Often it is not the holidays that are the issue per se, but rather our expectations of what should occur. If your children are with their father for Christmas, go for a spa weekend. If your mother recently died and she hosted Thanksgiving, host it yourself yet put a spin on it making it your own, maybe making a new dish.
  1. Focus on the positives in your life. Make a list. Write yourself a note. Challenge yourself every day to identify what you are thankful for.
  1. Realize that others are struggling as well. Not everyone’s lives are as fabulous as they post on social media. In fact, most people only post positives, so it can be easy to feel that we are alone and that everyone else is feeling the joy. If need be, unplug from social media, or at least decrease the frequency, for a bit.
  1. Focus on self-care. Limit your alcohol intake. Do not overindulge in all the holiday sweets. Make time to exercise and get enough sleep.
  1. Particularly around the holidays, many organizations are looking for additional volunteers. Giving back helps others while also giving you a sense of appreciation for your life.
  1. Get a light box. Lack of light with the shorter days when it is dark by 5pm can exacerbate feelings of depression. So let there be light.
  1. Look forward to the future. Plan something for after the New Year. Even if it is just a girls’ night out or a spa day. This will give you something to look forward to.

“Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.” – Victor Borge