7 Tips to Combat the Holiday Blues

By Noelia Trujillo

For many, this season is colorful — bright lights adorning homes, adorable ornaments beautifying Christmas trees, alluring wrapping paper blanketing presents and festive foods galore.

I got my personal fix of these annual luxuries this week while decorating my home and tree with family. But then the worry began trickling in: What gifts should I buy? How many? Will people like them? How can I afford everything when I’m practically broke? I couldn’t help but feel anxious and wish I didn’t have to fork up so much green in the coming months.

Courtesy of Will Montague
Courtesy of Will Montague

Turns out, I’m not alone. Simply searching “holiday stress” online will result in numerous articles listing facts about the holiday blues and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Ronald Nathan, PhD, clinical professor at Albany Medical College in New York, told WebMD people tend to blame traffic, crowds and the pressure of consumption, but their biggest fault is in their unreasonable expectations.

What happened to ‘Tis the season to be jolly’? Instead of settling for seasonal blues this holiday season, try these seven tips to boost your mood:

Focus on physical health
It’s tempting to overindulge in holiday treats, especially when you’re stressed. Mayo Clinic suggests filling up on healthy snacks before holiday parties, getting lots of rest and doing physical exercise daily.

Sniff some citrus
Researchers found “citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood.”

Disconnect from technology
Texts, emails, phone calls and more can send adrenaline pumping and elevate stress during your holiday preparations. Take a technology or social media fast to focus on personal encounters and connections with family and friends.

Get rid of expectations
The holidays won’t be perfect or feel the same as when you were a child. Enjoy what you can with those you have around you, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Seek the sunlight
When you’re feeling down, try to get at least 20 minutes of sunshine outdoors or near a window. It stimulates the production of feel-good serotonin and can combat SAD.

Give back to others
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “In January 2014, 578,424 people were homeless on a given night.” While we stress about what gifts to buy or how to cook the perfect holiday meal, these individuals are living in shelters or on the street. Instead of worrying about our needs or wants, donate food, money, gifts or time to those in need.

Say I love you often
Seeing others light up at the sound of these sweet words is beautiful. There’s no better way to feel good than making others feel loved.

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