1. Set Realistic Goals
Evaluating and accepting which of your holiday goals are attainable without running yourself into the ground allows you to enjoy your accomplishments, instead of feeling disappointed for failing to complete all of your self-imposed holiday tasks. Being honest with yourself about your time, money and energy limitations will go a long way towards achieving a sense of happiness and satisfaction this season.
2. Don’t Overindulge
Alcohol and sweets are unavoidable holiday temptations, and an abundant feature of every party and dinner you attend. Enjoying these in moderation can add to the holiday spirit, as long as you don’t go overboard. Alcohol is a well-known depressant, which in high doses heightens a gloomy disposition. The same goes for a high sugar intake, which provides a temporary energy rush, quickly followed by a sugar crash (decreasing serotonin levels in the body), and a feeling of weakness and fatigue.
3. Enlist Recruits
There’s no need to take on every holiday responsibility. If you feel overwhelmed with chores, divvying them up amongst friends and family is a great way to spend time with those closest to you during this festive season while getting things done. The less stress you feel, the less likely you will feel over-burdened and depressed.
4. Venture Into Volunteerism
Making time to help those in need will make you feel useful and appreciated, and takes you out of your daily life and schedule. Giving of yourself makes you appreciate what you do have in life; and as you bring smiles to others’ faces, your face will reflect that joy.
5. Don’t Break the Bank
Carefully calculate your holiday expenses and hold to your budget. There’s no quicker route to depression than feeling hopeless about money. When you overspend on seasonal shopping, you diminish your delight in the holidays by increasing your financial worries.
6. Use Nostalgia Positively
This time of year can be a time of reflection, and if you have lost someone through death, divorce or a break-up, your sense of loss can easily make you feel overwhelmed. It’s important to focus on the good memories you have of that person, appreciating what they’ve brought into your life and how those positive memories will forever be a part of you. Staying present and celebrating who’s in your life today is another way to beat the nostalgia blues.
7. Pitch the Perfectionism
The expectations for a perfect holiday can drive anyone mad. It’s great to have pride in your work (cooking, decorating, gift giving), but obsessing over these things will definitely not make your holidays happy. Agree to put a certain amount of effort into each project, and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
During this family-oriented time of year, try to move past any judgments and arguments that you may have with a family member. Harboring ill feelings can be a heavy burden, and you might be pleasantly surprised at how much lighter and happier you feel when you can let go of any resentments and enjoy this time of year with those you love.
9. Identify Escapism
Sometimes people use the holidays to avoid the realities and problems of their daily lives. It’s easy to plunge yourself into the projects that characterize the season; but if part of your whirlwind of activities is an effort to escape from your problems, you will certainly feel depressed at some point as things start to slow down. In this regard, accepting your situation and taking steps every day to improve it is the only answer to making a happier life for yourself. If you hide behind escapism – like excessive vacations, mountains of movies and books, or holiday fervor – your problems will persist, and eventually sap your energy and joy.
10. Nurture Yourself
Keeping yourself balanced through exercise, relaxation, sleep, and a healthy diet is a crucial component of a happy mind. With the added stressors of the holidays, these factors deserve even more attention. Observing these checks and balances will enable you to conquer the challenges of the holidays with an abundance of energy and an appreciation for the true spirit of the season.
By Alina Mikos