If you feel a little blue around the holiday season, you probably feel like you’re out of luck. Everyone around you is ho-ho-ho-ing and over-the-top jolly, exacerbating your situation. It just makes you feel more alone. It makes you feel like you can’t even talk about it.

But you are not the only one. Lots of people find the holidays tough to get through for all sorts of reasons. Some are especially sad if they’re used to celebrating with loved ones who are no longer here. Or stressed if family demands are too pressing. Or just plain daunted by all the extra chores of the season. No wonder the holidays bring depression and stress to many.

If you’re one of these people, you already know it. So plan ahead. Here are some ideas:

  1. Own it. Give yourself permission NOT to be cheerful. You are sad. Acknowledge your feelings and express them. Have a good cry. You have good reason to feel sad so don’t try to fake being happy just because it’s the season to be jolly.
  2. Pamper yourself. Yes, you’re so rushed. Yes, there’s no time for pampering when there are errands to run. But languishing in a bubble bath and taking a little time out for yourself is especially important when you’re stressed. Relaxing may just recharge your energy enough to give you that extra boost you need.
  3. Be a minimalist. Families grow and change. If you kept up every tradition of your grandparents and parents and your partners’ and on and on, well. You’d be frazzled. Just pick the ones that are most meaningful for you and only perpetuate what you can manage. It’s just no fun if you overdo to the point of exhaustion.
  4. Stick to your budget. It can be tempting to overspend on gifts with anticipation of the joy it will bring others. But refrain if it will strain your budget and cause you stress. The temporary rush of good feeling when you buy something is short-lived, but the credit card debt lingers on and on.
  5. Maintain your healthy habits. When you are so busy you can hardly take time to have lunch, that’s when you need to uphold your routine. Eating regular, healthy meals keeps you from overdoing on holiday hors d’oeuvres. Get plenty of good solid sleep and exercise, too.
  6. Lift your spirits. When you’re feeling ready, seek out opportunities to connect with others. Volunteer in a soup kitchen. Go to a social event and broaden your circle of friends. Concentrate on doing good for others and you may soon forget how bad you feel.
  7. Recognize triggers. Think of what especially stresses you. If you can’t avoid them, prepare so you can prevent a meltdown before it happens. If you know you’re going to see your uncle with the wacky political views, have a light, positive response ready for him. And resolve to enjoy the gathering.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.