This time of year is portrayed as a time of celebration, giving, gratitude, parties and cheer and for many, it is. Although there is holiday joy in the air, the holidays can also bring on enormous amounts of stress, loneliness, guilt and uneasiness. Symptoms of the holiday blues may include sadness, anxiety, fatigue, headaches and insomnia. Other related concerns may include over-drinking and over-eating. It is important to be aware of how you are feeling and to take really good care of yourself, as always!
Ads and the media continuously remind us to spend, give, eat and indulge and this time of year brings many demands (travel, gift-giving, hosting and shopping to name a few). These ads forget to mention some key points, such as not to spend beyond your means, not to change your healthy lifestyle habits, not to over-eat or over-drink and not to give into pressure and make choices that knock you off track or are unrealistic.
In terms of mental health and positive well-being, this is a key time of year to utilize and seek support if you feel overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, sad, lonely, pressured or feel anything that doesn’t sit right. Seeking support, such as psychotherapy, is an incredibly courageous step and can be extremely helpful in beating the holiday blues, reflecting on 2012, and providing skills and strategies to handle stress and sadness. Psychotherapy can also help you jump start 2013 with a fresh perspective and increase your motivation to live out your goals in the new year ahead.
Below are 15 quick tips to beat the holiday blues:
1. Discover inexpensive ways to enjoy your time (examples include walking, window-shopping, ice-skating).
2. Keep your expectations realistic.
3. Make time for exposure to direct light and time outside daily.
4. Commit only to what feels right and avoid over-committing.
5. To follow on number 4, learn to say no to over-spending,binging and too many commitments.
6. Try to share responsibilities and commitments with others. If you are hosting a holiday gathering, maybe resort to a pot-luck dinner vs. being responsible for all of the food preparation. Ask for help.
7. Volunteer and take part in community service. Giving to others is truly a healing experience.
8. Find time to be alone and rest (and don’t feel guilty while doing so).
9. Continue to participate in activities that are meaningful to you. Engage in activities that are good for your physical and mental health.
10. Let go of your imperfections and perceived failures of the year. Focus on your accomplishments, successes and learning experiences.
11. Honor yourself and your needs. Listen to your body and give yourself breaks.
12. If you are prone to over-drinking, set limits on alcohol use and commit to these limits. Ask for a reminder or support from a friend, family member, partner or loved one.
13. Reach out to friends, family and old connections. Remind yourself that you are not alone.
14. Think of at least 3 things to be grateful for each day. Feel abundance about what you have vs. don’t have.
15. Seek support through counseling, psychotherapy and/or a support group.
I truly hope that these quick tips were helpful. If I can help support you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rachel Dack, MS, LCPC, NCC
Welcome to Rachel Dack Counseling LLC’s mental health blog, written by Rachel Dack, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (L.C.P.C.) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Rachel provides psychotherapy and coaching services to children, adolescents, adults, couples and families in her Bethesda, Maryland office and over the phone. Rachel believes in the importance of providing holistic care for those with mental health and/or medical illnesses through the integration of building a healthy support system, personal wellness practices and psychotherapy. Please connect with Rachel by emailing Rachel@RachelDack.com or by calling 301-655-8462. Enjoy Rachel Dack Counseling LLC’s mental health blog and check back for more great resources, reflections, mental health tips!