The holidays are a difficult time for many people. Many people struggle with depression, stress, loneliness, and feelings of resentment during the holidays. If you are one of those people, you are not alone, and there are things you can do to help yourself feel better. Here are five ways that can help lift your mood, and battle your holiday blues:
- Seek the company of other people you enjoy spending time with. Many of us spend the holidays with family, but not everybody particularly enjoys spending time with all of their family members. If there are some people you get along with better than others, try to spend more time with those people. Often, our closest friends are busy or out of town during this time of year, but you may be able to give one of your closest friends a call when you are feeling really bad. Talking to a good friend (not necessarily about why you are feeling bad) can really lift your mood. If you are alone during the holidays, and you are feeling sad and depressed because of that, seek the company of other people anyway. There are usually many volunteer opportunities available around this time of year. Meeting new people and spending your time helping others will definitely help you feel better.
- Get physically active. Physical activity is one of the most effective ways of helping you feel better when you are feeling down or depressed. Studies show that physical activity is even more effective than antidepressant medication! So, find any way of engaging in physical activity that is right for you. Go for a walk, a bike ride, visit your gym again, take a yoga class, even a five minute walk around the block can help.
- Be in the present moment. When you feel down or depressed, it is often your thoughts and self-talk that is fueling your mood. Thoughts about the way you believe things should be, or about how people ought to behave, or self-critical thoughts about how you should be, or ought to feel. All these thoughts tend to make us feel very irritable and resentful. Other thoughts that makes many people feel very hopeless and sad are global, negative thoughts about themselves and the world. When you are in this state of mind, you tend to selectively notice only the things that confirm your negative thoughts and beliefs, while selectively ignoring more positive aspects of your experience that would contradict these beliefs.When you are able to be fully present, you will realize that you are not your thoughts, that your thoughts are not necessarily the truth, and that you can just drop those negative thoughts. If you can let your thoughts go, and allow yourself to be in the present moment, with whatever you are doing, you may be more open to experience the more positive aspects of your experience. When you are able to perceive the positive, and beautiful aspects of life that are always available, in every moment, your mood will improve as well.
- Engage in activities that are soothing and relaxing. You know what these activities are for you. For some it may be reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath.
- Distract yourself from your depressed thoughts and feelings by engaging in activities that you (usually) enjoy. If you can fully engage in an enjoyable activity, preferably in the company of people you enjoy spending time with, you will find that you don’t even have time to think the thoughts that make you feel depressed. Engaging in enjoyable, distracting activities can be incredibly helpful in battling your holiday blues.