When Your Life Isn’t a Hallmark Channel Movie: Dealing with the Holiday Blues

Since the day after Halloween, Christmas commercials have been airing, decorations have been springing up, and everywhere one seems to turn there’s a reminder that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year.”


Except when it’s not.


This time of year can be hard for many reasons: You may be grieving for someone, whether a deceased loved one or relationship loss. You may be unable to physically be with your loved ones, whether due to work constraints or insufficient travel funds. You may not want to be with your family due to unhealthy or strained relationships. If you are dreading this time of year, you’re not alone. Here are my tips to help you deal with the holiday blues and rock on into the New Year:


1. Take a break from social media. All of it. Disconnect now. You and I both know that no one’s posting anything during the holiday season on social media that’s going to make you feel good. In actuality, the more time you spend on social media the lousier and more depressed you’re going to feel. So take a break. Go reread your favorite Harry Potter book right now.


2. Honor your needs. Don’t fall into the thinking trap of the “shoulds”. “I should decorate. I should go to that party. I should feel happy.” Just because commercials, songs, department stores, TV shows, and movies all portray what we’re “supposed to” look or feel like during the holidays doesn’t mean that’s the reality. Repeat after me, “My life is not a Hallmark Channel movie and that’s okay.” If you feel like being alone, then be alone and give yourself permission to skip the holiday party. Live authentically. Listen to yourself and honor your needs.

3. Be extra kind to yourself. Meet and exceed your basic needs. Drink plenty of water. Eat healthy(ish). Get plenty of rest. Make time for self-care. Exercise. Go for a walk. Take a yoga class. Get a massage. In the words of Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle from Parks and Recreation, “Treat Yo Self!”


4. Be extra kind to others. If you’re looking for a win-win situation to carry you through the holidays, why not try volunteering? Volunteering has been shown to boost happiness levels for the volunteer, and you’re contributing to the greater good of others and your community. Often around the holidays extra volunteers are needed, especially in facilities like nursing homes, homeless shelters, and animal rescue leagues. So pick a cause that’s close to your heart and get helping.


5. Practice gratitude. It’s easy to get swept up in comparing yourself to others around the holidays, especially if you’re spending a lot of time on social media (please refer to tip 1). People are posting engagement photos, pregnancy announcements, photos that make it seem like they’re having the time of their lives. It can feel like you’re 10 steps behind everyone else. Power down all electronics and grab some paper (or a journal) and a pen…we’re doing this old school yo…and write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for and why you are grateful for them. Do this every night for a week. It may seem challenging or it may even seem silly, but it works. Research shows that this helps you to feel happier and perceive things in a more positive manner.


Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to effectively dealing with the holiday blues and starting the New Year off on a healthier and happier foot. And if you’re looking for further strategies or help, please call. I’m here to talk and you can contact me directly.


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