As the holiday season approaches, it's essential to acknowledge that feelings of joy and celebration can sometimes be accompanied by the less talked about "holiday blues." This phenomenon affects numerous individuals, causing a downturn in mood, heightened anxiety, and a sense of loneliness. It's crucial to understand that experiencing these emotions doesn't mean there's something wrong with you; rather, it reflects the complex and often bittersweet nature of the festivities.
If you struggle to get into the holiday spirit, feel overwhelmed, or face intense stress, please know you are not alone. We invite you to consider the following checklist on overcoming the holiday blues using psychological practices rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These actionable steps can help you navigate the festive season with a more balanced outlook, allowing you to embrace and enjoy this special time of year fully.
Identify and Challenge Negative Thoughts
Challenge these thoughts: are they factual or mere assumptions? Can you prove them?
Use cognitive restructuring to replace these inaccurate thoughts with more positive or realistic ones, such as "Everything doesn't have to be perfect; I can enjoy the holidays without meeting impossible standards."
Manage your Expectations
Avoid setting the bar too high for the perfect holiday season.
Remember that it's okay if everything isn't perfect.
Understand that it's natural to feel low or disconnected sometimes, even during festive seasons.
Make time for regular physical activity. Exercise can help reduce feelings of anxiety and elevate your mood.
Limit consumption of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar, which can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression.
Incorporate nutritious food into your diet, which can boost mood and energy.
Take moments to live in the present, to concentrate on the here and now. This can help redirect your focus from ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
Meditate daily to build resilience to stress and elevate mood.
Establish a Routine
Holiday times often disrupt the usual routines, but a regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and exercising can help regulate mood.
Reach out to loved ones and share your feelings.
Plan safe gatherings or virtual activities, if necessary, to stay connected with loved ones.
Engage in activities you enjoy and that relax you. Some ideas could include reading a book, taking a warm bath, or walking.
Write down what you are thankful for each day. This can help shift your focus onto positive experiences and feelings.
Seek Professional Help if Needed
If feelings of sadness, anxiousness, or disinterest persist, consider seeking professional help. The assistance of a therapist or counselor can be beneficial in overcoming more profound experiences of the holiday blues.
Remember, having highs and lows during the holiday season is expected. Use these practices rooted in CBT to manage festive stress and create a more enjoyable holiday experience. The holiday season can often bring a more profound recognition of a lack of boundaries we may have overlooked during the rest of the year. It's common to feel drained and overextended due to countless events, family requests, and societal expectations. Ensuring that these holidays are a time to recharge instead of feeling overwhelmed requires maintaining healthy boundaries. If you find this a struggle, we invite you to grab our Holiday Boundaries Mini-Course, "Season's Bliss." This course can provide practical, CBT-based strategies to handle holiday-related stress by establishing and maintaining boundaries. Enroll in "Season's Bliss" to swap the holiday blues with a more empowered, lighter, and blissful Christmas experience. You deserve a holiday season that is as joyous and carefree as it is meant to be!