Tis the season to be jolly!
But what happens when you’re not? The holidays can be a difficult time for many people...and that’s perfectly normal! Maybe it’s family stress. Maybe the season brings a reminder of someone you loved and lost. Maybe you are suffering from seasonal affective disorder.
Whatever the cause, it’s not your responsibility to be spreading joy and cheer constantly. You’re not Santa Claus! Use this time to practice self-care and make sure you have the most pleasant holiday experience for yourself.
- Learn to say “no”. If you find yourself buried in invitations from friends and family, take a step back and make some decisions. Don’t stress about committing to every single social engagement that comes your way, just enjoy the ones you are able to attend!
- Dive into volunteer work. Oftentimes, doing something good for others also provides a big boost to your own mood and happiness. Take a shift at your local soup kitchen or pay a visit to a nearby retirement home or children’s hospital.
- Discover your own version of hygge. Whatever makes you feel cozy, embrace it! Sit in front of the fire with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Wrap yourself in the most comfortable sweater you own and cuddle with your pet. Find your snuggery!
- Get one-on-one time with your loved ones. After the excitement of the holiday season dies down, you may find that you did not get the chance to spend as much quality time with some relatives as you would’ve liked. Make time to chat with a cousin you haven’t seen in years or listen to another one of your favorite uncle’s war stories.
- Practice active gratitude. Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year to be grateful for the good things in your life. Studies have found that those who cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” report improved physical and emotional health!
- Exercise! A long run or a kickboxing class not only keeps your body healthy, it can also provide an excellent form of stress relief. Practice yoga and meditation to really strengthen that mind-body connection!
- Take a long shower or bath. There are few experiences as relaxing as taking a long, hot bath after a particularly stressful day. Let the warm water relax your muscles, and finally try out that bath bomb you bought months ago. Read a book or listen to music, and forget about your family for a while.
- Try light therapy. Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that can affect anyone. As the season changes from fall to winter, you may experience symptoms such as a loss of energy or motivation, difficulty sleeping, or frequent depressed thoughts. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan if you believe it might be more than a case of the "winter blues".
- Protect your alone time. When your family inevitably starts to drive you crazy, take some time away from it all. Go for a walk outside or enjoy your favorite Christmas movie on Netflix. Recharge and let go of any stress before you rejoin the festivities.
- Get your creative juices flowing. Decorate cookies, perfect your present wrapping techniques, or get an early start on that New Year’s resolution to journal every day! Do whatever activity clears your mind and allows you to relax.