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5 Tips For Beating The Holiday Blues

The sound of bells and Christmas carols, the scent of candles and family laughing together. Those are the happy, warm feelings and fantasies we often imagine when we think of the holiday season. Although that may be the experience for some, for many individuals, the holiday season is one of dread, sadness and grief. The reason for this is as varied as the people experiencing the holiday blues, so I will focus instead on some commonalities and offer some tips and tools on how to navigate this holiday season with some amount of ease and grace.

Social Isolation:

Social isolation is a common problem in parts of the country that experience cold temperatures and snow. Here in Wisconsin, it is not completely uncommon to have days where we don’t go outside at all due to low temperatures and icy conditions. During the holiday season, this can become an even bigger issue if there is no opportunity to spend the days with family or friends. If you are finding yourself in a position of facing the holidays alone, it is a wonderful idea to reach out to a local shelter or community center to volunteer your time serving meals to those less fortunate people. Not only does this allow you to have community during the holidays, it is a wonderful opportunity to practice gratitude for all the things you do have. If volunteering cannot be an option, create a special holiday celebration for yourself. Prepare yourself a nourishing meal. Set a festive table, watch some heartwarming movie, write in a gratitude journal or take a warm essential oil scented bath. Light candles and celebrate the beautiful light that you are in this world. Prepare yourself emotionally ahead of time that you will be spending the holidays celebrating in quiet reflection.

Trying to do too much:

Holidays often bring out the perfectionist in all of us. We look through holiday magazines and envision our homes to look like the images in the magazines. If you are finding yourself stressed about decorating the perfect home, creating the perfect meal and dinner setting, finding just the right gift for every one on the list and it is ruining the joy of the season for you, take a step back and re-evaluate. Have a conversation with your family this year ahead of time, and let them know that although you will decorate the house, there will be a lovely meal and the holidays will be as beautiful as ever, the focus this year is on spending time together and enjoying that time together. That might mean decorating the house together as a family. Maybe the house won’t look magazine perfect but it will feel family perfect. Make cooking the meal a family affair. Children can help set the table, or cut up simple vegetables. This will encourage community and the children will know they have contributed to the family meal. Maybe it won’t be a five star meal but it certainly will be a joyful one.

Unrealistic expectations:

Again, we are bombarded by images of the perfect Christmases in magazines and in the movies. Maybe our best friend is the kind of woman that seems to pull it all off perfectly. Is having the perfect gifts, the perfect home, the perfect tree, well groomed angelic children at the table, extended family that are singing Christmas carols together, laughing and enjoying each other effortlessly, really realistic? Aren’t we all just humans? Can trying our best be good enough? The truth about high expectations is that we rarely ever manage to meet them. The beauty of managing our expectations is that we usually far exceed them. This Christmas, take the pressure off. A perfect holiday will not be as memorable as a real holiday.

Comparing your insides to someone else’s outside:

If you are struggling emotionally during the holiday season, don’t make it worse by spending hours on Facebook or other social media. The images on those sites of family and friends rarely show the accurate picture of what is really going on. It is one split second captured. Those smiling faces could have been arguing five minutes later. That perfect looking turkey on the table, might have been woefully undercooked. The real story is not usually found on social media. Please be very aware of what it is you are telling yourself about others, your situation and most importantly about yourself. Above all, be kind to yourself. Extend yourself the same compassion and patience that you would a loved one.

Slacking on self care:

With all the busyness and the long to do list of the holiday season, often times the first thing we let go of is our self care. We stop at fast food restaurants on the way home from the mall, we stay up late finishing Christmas cards or wrapping presents, we think the house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom and in the process we exhaust ourselves. Make sure this Christmas season that you get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, get plenty of down time and watch this Christmas be the most effortless, relaxing one yet. When we are sleep deprived, stressed out, not feeling good about our food choices, we compound an already stressful time into a more stressful period. When our self-care lacks, even the smallest obstacle becomes insurmountable. By taking care of ourselves we have the energetic reserve to take care of all the tasks of the holiday season.

Plan ahead:

If you know from past seasons that the holidays are difficult for you for whatever reason, plan ahead this year. Start your shopping earlier, write down a to do list and cross things off a little at a time. Prepare emotionally, watch your self talk and don’t compare yourself. Make sure to get plenty of time outside in nature to replenish as well. Taking a walk in cool winter air can be very invigorating and is wonderful for your immune system. Most importantly though, be kind to yourself. You as much as anyone deserves your attention and care.

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