The song says it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” but for many, late December is a depressing time. Not only is there a lot of year-end stress involved with month-end and/or year-end business as well as holiday preparations, but Seasonal Affective Disorder affects millions of people around the world because of shortened hours of sunlight. Changes in schedules and overeating can lead to disrupted sleep and physical stress. Loneliness is also a factor at this time of year. Time off from work can make the absence of friends and loved ones more noticable. And the loss of loved ones is obvious during the holidays.
If the holidays bring stress, anxiety, or depression rather than joy, here are some tips that might help:
- Get some sun and get outside! Exercise and fresh air are natural stress-busters. If you can, sit close to a window at work. Open curtains and blinds during daylight hours at home.
- Try to stick with your daily routine.
- Do less, enjoy more. Who are you pleasing? What can you do without? Do you have to go to ALL the parties you are invited to? Do you have to make ALL the cookies and treats you usually do? Rather, focus on the JOY. If it doesn’t make you and yours happy, why do it?
- Give yourself the gift of 15-20 minutes of quiet time each day. Schedule it if you have to.
- If there have been changes in the family (the loss of a loved one, job loss, friends and family breaking up or moving away), acknowledge that things are going to be different. Seek out new traditions.
- Reach out: Seek out community and friends when feeling lonely. Seek professional help if you need it.
- Be realistic: Forget perfection. “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
- Plan ahead and group your activities: shopping, baking, planning.
- Overwhelmed financially and time-wise with all the holiday donations? Yes, donations for the needy are needed. But they’re needed year ‘round. Make a note to move your donations of money and goods to the spring, summer, or fall.
- Practice mindfulness: Explore and acknowledge your feelings.
- Practice deep breathing to quiet the stress response.
- Learn to meditate or to just enjoy a quiet 15 minutes without distraction. Meditation is a reliable stress buster.
- Energy healing can help you reset as well as balance stress and anxiety.
What if family togetherness at the holidays is a source of stress? Here are some ideas to tackle difficult relatives (taken in part from The Chicago Tribune):
- Does your family tend to squabble? Eat out. You are more likely to get along in public.
- Learn to say no; set boundaries like a boss.
- Set aside differences.
- Take a breather. You are not obligated to participate if things get tense.
- Don’t be afraid to change the subject or be willing to leave it.
- Limit alcohol.
- Showing Up for Racial Justice hotline: text SOS to 82623 for tips on dealing with questions of racial justice over dinner.