5 Ways to Beat the Christmas Blues

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Stop holiday stress from turning into holiday blues with these five tips — and get back to what the season can be all about.

The year-end holidays can be a very special time indeed. Getting together with friends and family and sharing the joys of the season can be a time to build life-long remembrances. But for some, the holidays can be a time of great stress. Folks struggling with losses, undergoing conflict and upheaval, and dealing with painful emotional issues can experience the “blues,” sometimes exacerbated by the knowledge that others they know do not share their misery.

Finding some ways to prevent or beat the Christmas season blues can make all the difference for those struggling to capture at least part of the spirit of the holiday. After surveying the advice of many experts on issues ranging from holiday stress and anxiety to dealing with losses and overcoming depression, a consensus emerged about the things a person can do to stave off or reduce the blues:

Whatever the circumstances are that might keep you from enjoying the holidays to the fullest, it’s important to acknowledge what’s not in your power to control, to avoid blaming yourself and compounding any misery, and to find room for acceptance of yourself and your situation. That’s not the same as giving up hope. It just means acknowledging circumstances as they are and not making matters worse by casting harmful or unwarranted negative aspersions toward oneself for the situation at hand.
Take care of yourself.
Be sure to eat right, sleep right, get as much exercise as possible, and take time to relax. Pamper yourself a bit. Take time to break open that book you’ve been wanting to read. Take a warm, relaxing bath. Sip a nourishing drink. Treat yourself to a not-so-serious movie. Even in tough times — especially in tough times — it’s important to be attentive to your most basic needs.
Involve yourself with the people and the activities you love.
Call up an old friend. Go window-shopping with a partner-in-crime. Even if you have to be home and for one reason or another have to remain alone, surround yourself with some of the things you love. Put some favorite songs on the stereo. Watch a favorite old movie on TV. Make your immediate environment as pleasant and comforting as possible.
Throw some light on the situation.
Especially if you’re one of those folks who is particularly affected by the shorter, grayer days of winter, keep the lights on, light a fire in the fireplace, open the shades and drapes and bring as much light into your living space as possible. Bundle up and take some walks outdoors, especially if it’s sunny. Sunshine has a remarkable capacity to brighten spirits as well as the day.
Find some way to give.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself when you face difficult circumstances during the holidays. And while you might not feel very inclined to do so in the beginning, it’s always helpful to find some way to give of yourself to others. Not only is that what the season is supposed to be about, but also it can be a real boost to the despondent spirit to become involved in an enterprise that positively impacts others.

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‘Tis the season to be joyful and merry. And if life’s many trials and tribulations have put a damper on your usual holiday spirit, you might have a real challenge on your hands just to get through the season with a minimum of stress. But it’s important to remember that the true meaning of the season is not in all the festivities or all the gifts given and received. The real spirit of the holiday, and the greatest gift you can possibly share, is the one you alone can offer: the gift of love.

All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by on and was last reviewed or updated by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .

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