For some of us, the holidays are a tough time of year. Even when life is good, and we are bouncing happily along with our circle of friends, the holidays can interrupt our pattern. Christmas carols and the whole “home for the holidays” festive atmosphere can make us feel isolated and alone, especially if we happen to be single. They call this the holiday blues, and it is not uncommon.
It’s almost as if the whole world full of people wants to show us what a happy family they all have. Everyone seems to be laughing and smiling all the time.
It’s easy for all of this cheer to make you feel down if you live alone. After all, who doesn’t want to attend festive holiday dinners and hang Christmas ornaments with their spouse and children?
If any of this rings true for you, you are certainly not alone. Many people report feelings of loneliness, depression, isolation and stress during the Christmas season. There are a number of reasons for this but what is most important is that you know how to cope so your depression doesn’t get the best of you.
Tips for Coping with the Holiday Blues
Try combating the holiday blues with these tried and true tips.
Get Out in the Sunlight
The winter season has long been considered responsible for mood disorders. The lack of sunlight does things to our bodies that we don’t really notice until we are feeling down. It’s easy to slip into the habit of feeling depressed and sleeping too much when days are shorter and cloudy.
If possible, get out of the house for a walk in the sunlight. Lift your face up to the sun and let it melt away that holiday depression. If there isn’t sunlight that day, consider a light box that you can install in your own home to hit yourself with a daily dose of Vitamin D.
Say Yes to Invitations
When friends suggest a get together, say yes. You might not feel like it at the time you accept the invitation, but chances are that if you go, you’ll have a great time. If nothing else, being around people who enjoy your company is a break from the usual solo routine.
Do Something Kind
While you are feeling lonely, there is an excellent chance that other people around you are feeling something about the holiday season as well, whether it be financial stress or being harried for time. Imagine how you might impact their day by bringing by a small baked gift. The time that you spend pulling it together will make you feel less lonely, and the smile on their faces will be worth the time and effort spent.
Engage in Healthy Habits
Get plenty of sleep and be sure to do some light exercise for at least a few minutes every day. Exercise has been proven over and over again to be beneficial for lifting holiday depression and promoting feelings of well being.
Make Plans with Friends
Nothing makes a house feel more full of light and cheer than some of your friends coming together at your place. Enjoy good conversation and great food and revel in the opportunity to be with others whose company you truly love. The shared conversation and laughter tends to linger after the dinner party is over as well and will boost your mood for days.
Embrace Your Feelings
Just because everyone else is happy doesn’t mean you can force yourself to feel that way. It’s okay to feel sad if you have lost someone or you can’t be near family this year. Take some time to breathe and accept your feelings so that you can let them pass. Often we try to fight our feelings, but sometimes giving into them for half an hour and feeling them all the way through will actually lift your mood. You’ll learn that feeling that particular feeling won’t kill you and with time and practice this can truly improve your mood every day of your life.
Adopt a Pet
Nothing beats loneliness than having another living soul to come home to. The Pet Health Network reported on a study in which researchers found that people over 60 who were living with pets were 36% less likely to feel lonely than people who didn’t own pets. If you aren’t sure that taking on a pet is right for you, consider fostering a pet to see how it goes. Many dog rescues will gladly accept foster applications from people who want to give fostering a test-run first.
Another option to consider is to adopt an adult or senior pet. Puppies easily find new homes, but adult and older pets are often euthanized for space reasons because everyone always wants a puppy. You may be able to visit your locals shelter and give the gift of life to a deserving pet who will provide you joy and companionship through many future holidays.
Do you suffer from holiday blues? What is your favorite tactic to try in overcoming these feelings? Let us know in the comments below.