When the seasons change and the holidays approach, many people experience a building sense of excitement. Just the thought of decorating, shopping for gifts, planning holiday get-togethers, and organizing family travel is enough to make some people feel merry. If thinking of the holidays doesn’t make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, however, you’re not alone.
If you’re worried about the holiday blues and feeling the pressures of the pandemic, here are some simple tips to keep your mental, emotional, and physical health in balance all the way through to the New Year.
Tips to Stay Encouraged and Uplifted During the Holidays
Brighten up your day.
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, nothing brightens up your day like sunshine giving a dose of vitamin D. During the summer you’re constantly bombarded with the hazards of too much sun exposure, but the truth is sunlight is a powerful weapon against the holiday blues. Exposure to bright morning light helps maintain your natural circadian rhythm and plays a role in serotonin production. Scientific research shows people who spend time outdoors, especially after long periods inside, experience improvements in mood, energy, and sleep quality. Even 10 to 15 minutes a day could make a difference. And on gloomier winter days or when you can't get outside regularly, try supplementing your diet with Vitamin D-rich foods or a daily supplement.
Get your heart pumping.
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle year round. Though it may be difficult to drag yourself out of the house on a cold day, you may find you actually feel better after a brisk walk or a quick yoga session. Winter is the perfect time to try a new at-home workout or enroll in a virtual fitness class. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate exercise about three to five times per week to enjoy benefits such as reduced anxiety, relief from depression, and improved energy levels. Reduce the potential of holiday sadness with exercise.
Make a daily connection with loved ones.
Loneliness and isolation can come calling at any time of year, but the holidays are particularly difficult for many, especially with Covid-19 quarantines. The best way to keep these feelings at bay is to avoid giving them the space to creep in. Make an effort to reach out to friends, family, and loved ones on a daily basis in whatever way you can manage. Call a loved one to check in, write an old friend a letter, or meet up with someone for a walk or an outdoor coffee break. If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to connect with others, make a list of people who are important to you and try to contact one per day.
Give your brain a break.
We live in a digital world and, in the midst of the current pandemic, that has never been clearer. Though social media has made it easier to stay connected when we can’t be together, you can have too much of a good thing. Compulsive use of social media can lead to fatigue and may even elevate your levels of anxiety and depression. Take some time off from technology when you start to feel overwhelmed, even if it’s only for a few hours. If you work from home, turn off notifications on your phone or set your Gmail to snooze so you can take the time to truly relax and unwind.
Related reading: "Why Is Mindfulness Important? And 3 Simple Practices."
Prioritize your commitments.
The holidays are always a busy time of year, but a packed calendar can be stressful, even if it’s full of friends and family. If you’re struggling to find time to fit in another holiday party (even if virtual) or you’re falling behind on self-care, remember you can always say “no.” Whether you already have another commitment or simply don’t have the energy, there’s no need to make up an excuse. It’s perfectly acceptable to politely decline an invitation—you can even offer to reschedule for a better time.
Related reading: "Self-Care Is Foundational to a Healthy and Happy Life."
Journal what you feel.
Many people have already discovered the joy of journaling, but if you haven't, there's science that supports the benefits of a simple writing practice. Whether you write down what you're feeling, make a journal into a gratitude practice, or jot down meaningful thoughts that you want to capture, journaling can help you make this holiday season merrier. It doesn't even have to be a literary journal; if you're feeling creative, sketch or draw. You can even paste pictures to the pages and write about what they mean to you. Try it your way—you just might like it!
Deep Dive: "How Journaling Can Help You in Hard Times."
Seek help when you need it.
If the holiday blues are getting you down, avoid the impulse to isolate. No one wants to feel like a burden, but the truth is your mental health is important and you deserve to feel your best at any time of year.
Mental health professionals are always available to recommend treatment or simply to answer your questions. If you’re not ready to see someone in person, many Telehealth companies are now offering services online. Whether you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or simply not feeling like yourself, it’s better to seek help than to struggle on your own. We don't think twice about getting technical support; get emotional and mental support when you need it! You're not alone.
Related reading: “What We Know About the Holiday Blues.”
The holidays may be a merry time of year for most, but sometimes the stress can get you down. Whether you struggle with a seasonal affective disorder or you’re feeling a little more isolated this year, you don’t have to feel like you’re spending the holidays alone. Take it one day at a time and try some of these simple tips to fight back against the holiday blues.
If you want help, reach out to Heartmanity and get customized support. We're here to support you. Email email@example.com.
A special note of appreciation: This blog was a collaborative effort with a writer passionate about providing support for those struggling with depression. Thank you for your contribution.