by Charity Jackson
The holidays are thought to be the happiest times of the year: colorful trees, hot chocolate, lighting the fireplace and Christmas music. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, yet, for some, the holiday season can trigger deep feelings of sadness and anxiety. What is meant to be a time of joy from with family and celebration, may be a difficult time for people who do not have a strong connection with family. There’s a constant reminder from social media, news cycles, and commercials of how “happy” we should be during the holiday seasons that can be quite overwhelming.
To add insult to injury, consider the financial pressures of gift-giving, colder weather, time change, lack of sunlight, and you have a recipe for the holiday blues. It’s no wonder why nearly 10 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. The good news is: seasonal anxiety does tend to fade once time has past and the “excitement” has returned back to normal equilibrium (and if they don’t, consider seeking professional help for assistance). In the meantime, here are a few tips to help maintain a positive and productive mood over the next few weeks.
Seek Social Support
When the holiday blues strike, it’s always easiest to just stay at home, linger in the dark watching depressing Netflix movies, and eat yourself into a food coma. Instead, actively make yourself go out. Isolation and hibernation fosters a negative mood. Surround yourself with friends, even if you may not want to. Planning a small get together provides opportunities of pleasure and joy. Having a few events on your calendar with close friends, gives you something to look forward to, and more connected to those around you.
Work It Out
Ditched your workouts lately, haven’t you? Foregoing exercising not only rake up those holiday pounds, but also deprives yourself of those “feel-good” endorphins that aid in boosting your mood. During an intense workout session, the brain and body works in overdrive to alleviate any temporary feelings of sadness and discomfort, causing your body to push through to the end. It’s easier said than done, but the challenge is getting yourself to commit when you don’t want to. Instead of following your everyday workout routines, try switching it out: blow some steam boxing, hot yoga, or even a dance class. And if you fear accountability, invite a friend. Nothing’s better than getting Summertime Fine in the winter!
Take a Break From Social Media
Although we know most people only post the happier moments in their lives on Facebook, Instagram, and SnapChat, it’s easy to want to check your apps just to browse and see what’s happening in Danielle’s world today (No shade to all the Danielle’s in the world). You haven’t lost perspective, but you might have a small case of “fear of missing out”. Yes social media keeps us connected, but limiting your use during the holidays takes away the stresses of who’s vacationing where, having a good time, bottle-popping, newly engaged, etc. Take this time to connect with friends and loved ones the good old-fashion way: a phone call or a home visit, having face to face interaction. You’ll gain a greater sense of satisfaction listening to updates from people you actually enjoy, versus people you haven’t seen since high school.
Book a Trip
Wheels up, and prepare for takeoff! A quality vacation is guaranteed to boost anyone’s mood suffering the holiday blues. The anticipation of relaxing on a nice, warm, luxurious beach. Sand in between your toes, and refreshing drinks while soaking up the sun improves mood before you make it to your destination. You’ve worked hard all year long, and you deserve to treat yourself. However, be conscious of depending on a vacation as a coping mechanism, or as a mean to fulfilling happiness during this time. Counting the days until your beachy holiday, it’s important to learn how to maintain self care and focus within your own winter wonderland. Remember, if you cannot have peace anywhere else, you should have peace at home!
If you struggle with serious symptoms of depression, be sure to reach out to a healthcare provider to discuss your condition. For additional information on seasonal depression, head to the National Institute of Mental Health.