Dr Bev Smallwood

Articles Library: Coping

How To Beat the Holiday Blues

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it? For many, the holiday season brings depression, stress, and an unexpected cloud over the festivities. After, we may be especially vulnerable to holiday blahs. You can brighten the season for you and your family by taking action to prevent the three most common problems.

Problem 1: Chaos!

Mall madness. Dragging out and putting up the decorations. Busy kitchens, dirty dishes. Lines of traffic. More lines at the cash register. Pleasing all sides of the family with family event schedules. Party obligations. Shopping, wrapping. Depleted bank accounts and maxed-out credit cards. Working with others with frazzled nerves and short fuses to meet work deadlines and to serve customers in the same condition!

One word summarizes it all…STRESS!

Action: Take care of yourself. Before holiday parties, make a plan for to eat and drink moderately, and stick to it. Eat nutritious meals, refusing to live on constant diet of holiday junk. Plan into your schedule plenty of time for relaxation, exercise, and sleep.

Problem 2: Great expectations.

It’s easy to idealize the holiday season. Children will constantly exude delight. Loved ones will gather and exchange love and perfect presents. These unrealistically high expectations carry the seeds of disappointment. The higher your expectations, the more difficult it is for the experience to measure up.

Action: Have realistic expectations. Instead, create mental pictures that are closer to the way the holiday experience will actually be…a mixture of joy and jumpiness, of happy hearts and short fuses, of peace on earth and panic in the mall. Expect the ups and downs, and you won’t be disappointed.

Problem 3: Feelings of loss.

A major cause of holiday depression is the absence of lost loved ones. Family traditions, minus key players, can be catalysts for the re-experiencing of grief.

Action: Acknowledge the loss together. Talk about these feelings rather than trying (unsuccessfully) to ignore them. Take a few moments in the family time to reminisce and give tribute to the person.

If this is the first holiday season after the loss of a person, consider celebrating differently to diminish the intense pain. For instance, change locations…take a holiday vacation or even change the room in which the family gathers.

Don’t let the holiday blahs get you down! Add these preventative strategies to your busy schedule and to your workplace activities, and you may actually experience this as “the most wonderful time of the year!”

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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