It’s the most wonderful time of the year!…or is it??
The winter holiday season brings about some of the most popular holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year that for most people is filled with friends, family and celebrations. There tends to be this overwhelming sense that the holidays bring everyone joy and is the time of year we all look forward to. But what about those that find the holidays more difficult than the rest of the year? Holidays come with tons of pressure in many different forms. Maybe its finances, family, loss of loved ones, loneliness, seasonal depression, or any other reason, the holidays can prove to be a challenge for a lot of people.
To combat that, let’s talk about some ways to beat the holiday blues.
- Try to stay active: Exercise offers preventative and therapeutic psychological benefits. One theory is that exercise increases serotonin levels. A second theory suggests exercise helps improve sleep. With better sleep, mood improves. Other possible effects of exercise on the brain and mental functioning include the release of endorphins in the body, the break down of muscle tension through exercise can improve sleep and decrease physical pain and discomfort associated with depression; improvements in self-esteem, a feeling of accomplishment and feelings of self-worth; and an interruption of cycles of negative thoughts. Along with keeping active it is important to focus on healthy eating as well. Colder temperatures along with the holidays make comfort food really appealing (I mean give me all the Mac and cheese right?!) Enjoy the holidays, but fight the inability to control your appetite. Try having reward meals, versus weeks or months. Try your best to hop back on track as soon as possible by staying active and resisting leftovers. \
- Volunteer: when we focus on our own problems they can seem bigger than us. It can help to put yourself in the position of service. In line for coffee? Pay for the person behind you. You can help families in need by donating meals through a local church or community outreach organization. Don’t have extra cash? Serve with your time. Lots of soup kitchens do extraordinary work year round. As a volunteer, the best thing you can do ahead of any holiday giving is to listen to the needs of the organization for which you’ll be working. Sometimes, charities prefer supplies and cash donations over time and labor, and your skills can help facilitate that as well. Visit a nursing home. Some nursing home residents depart for the holidays, or host visits from family and friends. But for those who have no family, or nowhere to go, you can lift their holiday spirits and brighten their day. Contact a local home and ask about visiting times. Then plan activities for your visit. Listening to music, holiday decorating, watching a movie or sharing a holiday dish are all great ways of keeping residents company. Just make sure to confirm which activities and meals are permitted.
- Stick with holiday traditions: there are times when because of Dre’s work schedule he’s not with us for certain holidays. One of our traditions is to set up our Christmas tree together with the kids after Thanksgiving. If Dre’s on the road, we wait until he’s back and it’s the first thing we do upon his arrival. Music blasting, hot cocoa flowing, and lots of fights about ornament placement (am I the only mom that waits for the kids to go to sleep so you can fix the tree?!).
- Keep a gratitude journal: Too often,we let our circumstances overwhelm us. We focus on the moment and forget that there is something bigger and better ahead of us. Instead, Make the Choice to Rejoice. You always have a choice: Focus on yesterday’s pain or today’s joy. Choose today’s joy. Wake up and immediately think of 3 things you’re grateful for. Staying focused on the positive truly changes the way you start your day.
It can be a challenge to stay focused on what’s most important around the holidays. It becomes all about getting the biggest bestest presents, making your house look immaculately clean, and having the cutest matching family outfits for pictures (I mean, did thanksgiving eve happen is there’s no cute photo of everyone smiling dressed in color coordinated outfits?!). But at the end of the day, this is the season to appreciate all that you already have, and finding ways to give to those that don’t. Be mindful that the holidays affect us all very differently and above all else, be kinder than necessary. Because life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a MOM.