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  • Pass the gravy, hold the o(pi)nions: How to Prepare for the Holiday Blues

    The holidays are right around the corner. A time of fun and festivities, delights, and decadence. A time when we can enjoy our friends and family and live it up a little. Or at least that’s the Hallmark dream of a picture perfect holiday season, isn’t it?

    However, the days leading to and immediately after the holidays can stir up seasonal anxiety and depression that many cannot escape. For some of us, the cold and bleak landscape outside punctuates how we feel as we stare at our credit card bills, wondering if all those fancy gifts are such a good idea. Others might be mourning the loss of loved ones whose absence leaves a gaping hole around the dinner table and an even more profound void in our hearts. There are also those who are dreading uncomfortable family reunions with people who don’t know how to keep their opinions to themselves.

    If you tend to be someone who feels a bit sad during this time, there are some things you can do to prepare for and minimize the impact of the holiday blues.

    Plan Ahead

    Benjamin Franklin said it best: “If You Fail to Plan, You Are Planning to Fail” so if you anticipate stressful situations, why not get ahead of them? It’s not about being pessimistic, rather it’s about preparation. What parent of a baby leaves the house without a diaper bag? Would they be considered negative Nancys? No! They anticipate their infant will need a diaper change along the way, and maybe a change of clothes to minimize the negative impact of accidents.

    Plan to say no. Speaking from someone who cannot stand disappointing others, it is unhealthy to say yes to every request that comes your way. Practice saying in the mirror, in your car, in the elevator!

    Plan time for healthy breaks. Schedule mindfulness & meditation breaks. Be intentional about this. Give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries between you and your electronic devices. Be aware of activities that are avoidance tactics that still leave you feeling empty or alone.

    Plan a spending budget and set reasonable expectations. Decide now that you will not fall into the trap of pleasing others at your financial expense. Reflect on the true meaning of the holidays and reframe your gift-giving strategy to avoid feeling resentful. If you end up feeling regret, then was that gift really gift?

    Be Intentional

    Decide what you want to accomplish and who you want to connect with this season. Surround yourself with people whose presence generates warmth and peace. If some of those gatherings include people you are not so comfortable with, consider planning a more intimate gathering with your loved one without the extended crowd. If these encounters are inevitable, then plan ahead on how you can respond to opinionated folks who are ready to dish their unsolicited advice. Also, pause and reflect on whether you are the one who is generously pouring the advice on others. Consider how you can strike up conversations that are free of judgment that leave others with a sense of peace instead of guilt or annoyance. Either way, practice self-awareness and be mindful about guarding your heart and your tongue.

    Get Fresh Air, Sunlight, and Water.

    Treat yourself with nature’s best remedies. Even if you’re not into the outdoors or enjoy being physically active, you would be amazed at how therapeutic this can be. Just a bit of fresh air and exposure to sunlight can help relax you and lift your mood. Those who work indoors or have sedentary jobs tend to feel added depression since they are deprived of natural sunlight (a natural mood booster). A simple walk outside in the sun can be energizing yet calming. Studies have touted the mental health benefits of spending time in nature. Finally, set a goal on how much water you plan to consume for the day. Start off in the morning with drinking a large glass before you consume anything else.

    These simple acts can greatly alleviate stress, improve concentration, lower inflammation, and improve mental energy.

    Speak to Someone

    While many people will eventually overcome the blues, others don’t. Some individuals may be struggling with seasonal affective disorder or major depression that has been brought on by something else. If you feel you are dealing with something more than just the holiday blues, please speak with someone. 

    To explore treatment options, I encourage you to reach out to me at I’m more than happy to discuss how I may be able to help.