Ten Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues

Beat out stress and sadness during the holidays...

1. Be realistic.

A friend of mine says, "Reality is unavoidable." The reality of many people's holidays includes too much to do and not enough time, too much to purchase and not enough money, and too much to eat and not enough willpower. On the other hand, some people experience not enough family, fun, and friendship. Fighting against the reality of your life at this moment will only make you bluer. Instead, be kind to yourself, seek support, and laugh at yourself and the world every now and then.

2. Create your own traditions. As families change and grow, traditions change as well. For example, if you are a working woman who had a stay-at-home mother, instead of trying to reproduce the exact old-fashioned holiday of your childhood, do what you can do. As long as you do them with a joyful heart, the meals or decorations or celebrations you create will become your family's cherished rituals. Or if you are divorced, be as harmonious and generous as you can with your ex. It will be the best gift you give to your kids this year. If you are single or far away from your family, invite others into your home and give the words "extended family" new meaning.

3. Help others. Not because you should, but because it is the best antidote to self-pity and seasonal sadness. Find someone who is struggling more than you are, lend them a helping hand, and remember the real meaning of the holidays.


4. Seek sacred space. Drop into a Christian church or Muslim mosque or Jewish synagogue or Hindu temple or . . . you get the idea. Sometimes just sitting in sacred space can remind you of the true meaning of the holidays. Most places of worship welcome all people, even those just looking for a touch of grace in the midst of a stressful day. Instead of hurrying by that church you have passed a hundred times on the way to work, take a moment to enter its doors and sit quietly, imbibing the atmosphere and the prayers of its members.

5. Take care of your own temple: Your body. Eat well, drink a lot of water, exercise, and then be merry. Instead of making one more feeble New Year's resolution to join a gym or take a yoga class, do it right now. You will be amazed at how just the littlest bit of movement will lift your spirits, and how reducing the amount of junk food, sugar, and alcohol you consume will reduce your blues. And sleep-for goodness' sake, do whatever it takes to get enough of it. Sleep deprivation is at the root of many people's depression.

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Elizabeth Lesser
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