The holiday season can be a magical time filled with experiences that create lasting memories. However, it can also be a time filled with unnecessary stress due to the number of demands on our time, loneliness, and the gloomy weather (depending on where you reside). Read on to learn how to beat the holiday blues! 

Over the holidays, people often overindulge in junk food and alcohol, overextend themselves in terms of social obligations, and feel financial pressure from finding that perfect gift. It’s always important to stay aware of your emotional health, but it’s especially crucial over the holiday season when we’re all a little more at risk of buying into the hype the retail industry creates over the true the meaning of the season.

Below are some tips to help you get through the holiday season unscathed (cute pet pictures are sure to help. Who doesn’t love a dog in a Santa hat?):

Cheap Christmas gifts

How to Beat the Holiday Blues

Make a plan. My regular readers know I love a good plan and I’m a list person. Both are valuable tactics for anyone to leverage during the holidays. Once you clearly set out what you want to accomplish, how much money you’re able to spend, and which social functions you will attend, you’ll feel a lot more organized and less stressed. Then, it’s just a matter of following your plan!

Create new traditions. This season is especially magical for little ones, which can often leave people feeling like something is missing after they grow up. Since you’re not the same person you were when you were 5, the holidays aren’t going to be the same either. It’s so important to create new traditions (like baking cookies and snowshoeing) and find new, fun things to do that will make the holidays meaningful no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Find an enjoyable winter activity. If you live in a climate that gets cold in the winter like I do, then you know that being outside when it’s freezing isn’t always the most fun thing to do. However, if you can find a winter activity that you enjoy, it makes the season a lot more bearable. Find some time to get outside and take a walk, snowshoe, ski, snowboard, skate, or build a snowman.

Remember what you have to be grateful for. It can be easy to get caught up in the stress of the season and start to throw pity parties for yourself. However, if you keep in mind what you do have to be thankful for, and maybe even spend some time volunteering with those less fortunate, then you will receive a healthy dose of perspective. Usually, whatever it is that’s bothering you, whether it’s long lineups at the mall or people who got their drivers’ license in a cracker jack box, it is not that bad in the grand scheme of things.

Stick to a budget. The strength of your love for those in your life is not measured by how much money you spend on them. If you are putting yourself in debt or a bad financial situation just to purchase gifts, then you really need to rethink your strategy (and make a budget). No one is going to expect you to make your financial health suffer on their behalf (and if they do, you also need to rethink who is in your life).

Budgeting for the holidays

Say “no” when you need to. Many people are asked to attend a myriad of social functions, some of which compete with each other. If you are not able (or willing) to attend every gathering, then you need to set boundaries and limitations on the access that people have to your time. Your own well-being needs to come first and if there is something that you are unable to do, don’t want to do, or would cause you too much stress to do, then just say no!

Maintain your healthy lifestyle. The holiday season is full of junk food that may taste great, but offers little to no nutritional value. It’s unrealistic to say that people won’t have any treats, but try not to deviate from your usual healthy habits and recipes too much. It will only cause you to feel sluggish and make it more difficult to get back into your routine come January. It could also cause unwanted weight gain and no one wants that!

Manage your expectations. Even though I write a different kind of fairy tale, real life isn’t a storybook. The holidays can be a special time, but not everyone is close with their families (geographically or emotionally), has the extra money to spend on gifts, or gets into the spirit of the season in terms of decorating, baking, or being a social butterfly. Just because it’s December doesn’t mean that people are going to change or that life is going to be different. If you’re expecting everything to be perfect and run smoothly, then you’re only going to be disappointed because real life is rarely, if ever, perfect.

Get involved when you can and seek support if you need to. If you’re invited out, consider attending some social functions and getting involved in the activities that hold appeal for you. If you aren’t invited out, then take it upon yourself to check out some church or community functions that will allow you to be around others. Above all, be kind to yourself and if you need professional assistance, speak to your doctor or a counselor.

Take some time out for yourself. The holiday season can be filled with hustle and bustle, but make sure that you schedule in some down time for yourself. Whether you want to read, write, relax, exercise, or just do nothing, take breaks as required.

How to manage seasonal affectiveness disorder

What are your strategies to get through the holiday season?

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