It’s the holiday season again! While many of us expect to be excited and joyful at this time of year, the holidays can also bring feelings of stress and sadness. Extra responsibilities, high expectations for the holidays, and negative memories from past holidays can all lead us to feeling less than happy on the holidays. Complicating matters, reduced sunlight during the winter months is known to negatively affect our mood. But you do not have to succumb to the Holiday Blues. By keeping in mind the following strategies, you can still enjoy the season.
1. Focus on what you are most looking forward to this holiday season. Whether you are looking forward to spending time with family or friends, having a few days off work, or eating some delicious holiday food, spending time thinking about and planning for enjoyable moments will have a positive impact on your mood.
2. Adjust expectations for yourself. It is easy to expect too much of ourselves this time of year and then to feel disappointed when we do not meet our own expectations. Make sure that your expectations for yourself are reasonable and attainable. If you realize that you are overextending yourself, consider asking for help or letting something go.
3. Make sure that you still have time for the parts of your regular routine that make you happy. Continuing to partake in the favorite parts of your daily routine (playing with the kids, taking a nice bath, going to the gym) will help keep your equilibrium.
4. Plan time to relax after the season is over. Take pride in all that you accomplished this season and allow yourself the opportunity to partake in hobbies or interests that you may not have had time for in the past few weeks.
Here’s to a happy and healthy holiday season!
Christine Rothwell, Psy.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist