Tips For Beating The Seasonal Blues

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During the winter, and especially around the holidays, many people find themselves becoming more sad, lonely, depressed or anxious than at any other time of year.

Kenneth P. Davison, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist at the Advocate Medical Group (AMG) Counseling Center (located on Advocate Lutheran General Hospital's campus) provides the following tips for dealing with the holidays.

1. Set realistic expectations. It is important to identify how realistic your expectations are. Remember -- you have not failed if you choose not to do what was done in the past.

2. Simplify. Talk with your family and others about ways to express love and care without needing to keep up with the neighbors or the catalogues.

3. Reflect on meaning. Reflect on the meaning the holidays hold for you and for others. Evaluate your activities to see how they reflect the deeper significance of the celebration.

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4. Plan ahead, but live in the moment. Planning ahead can be a great way to reduce stress. Remember, however, to enjoy the moment and avoid second guessing what has happened, or anticipating the next event.

5. Review the past. Use your experiences of holidays gone by to guide your present holiday times. Review and prepare so you are consistent with the way you want to spend the holidays.

Return to your faith. For persons within faith traditions, faith can enrich the meaning, value and purpose of the holiday and of life afterwards.

7. Include others. The holidays can be an excellent time to help others through volunteering at a shelter or service agency, or assisting someone with a need. In helping others, you fight the temptation to feel sorry for yourself or increase your isolation.

8. Take care of yourself. Realize the value of caring for you. Do not allow yourself to become overly tired. Set reasonable limits on the amount and types of foods you eat. Limit alcohol consumption. Get some exercise. Let it be okay to say "no" to some things. Moderation in all things is a good rule of thumb for self-care.

9. Monitor your emotions. Contrary to the perpetuated myth that holidays are 'the season to be jolly,' feelings of marked depression or anxiety can occur. If these feelings become too intense or persist, consider getting help from a trained therapist.

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