Some people find the holiday season one of the most depressing times of year. Are you one of them? If so, you know that those cheerful greetings heard so often throughout November and December often fall on ears with hidden melancholy. Here are some suggestions for beating those holiday blues.

1.Guard against letting the holiday season turn into a rat race that will put you in a state of mental and physical exhaustion. Stick to your normal routine as closely as possible throughout the season.

This means avoiding last-minute shopping where you must buck the crowds and increased traffic. It also means limiting the number of invitations you issue or accept, and restricting other activities so that you won’t become overly tired. It means relieving yourself of the pressure of sending greeting cards to everyone on your list; or buying gifts for as many of your family or friends. Follow a schedule that is not too different from any other time of the year – the press of daily responsibilities can keep the blues from engulfing you.

2. It is important to realize that you can’t recapture the flavor of holidays long past.

The festive season often depresses people merely because they have fantasized memories of what the celebrations were like in their childhood. Realize that attempts to recover childish feelings are always doomed to end in failure. Understand this in order to ward off the holiday blues.

3. Drink less not more during the holidays.

Alcoholic beverages abound during the winter holidays. A lot of people think that alcohol will help them overcome their feelings of sadness—but remember that alcohol is not a stimulant, it is a depressant. As such, it releases your control over unhappy feelings so that subconscious regrets come to the fore.

4. Give yourself a break from holiday music from time to time.

It’s fact, starting in early November, Christmas and holiday music is played everywhere. On some days certain stations will play it for 24 hours. A steady dose of this music, often heavily sprinkled with the refrain of Auld Lang Syne and the gold old days and time gone past, is enough to make even the most optimistic experience feelings of sadness. So, why not turn off the radio and put your favorite non-holiday music in your player when you feel yourself being swamped by sadness.

5. Start making plans for the upcoming year.

Instead of dwelling on the things that did not work out for you in the year that is ending, look ahead—this is a great way to help avoid the holiday blues. Here are some examples to get you started: Start thinking about next year’s vacation, planning your healthier lifestyle for nutrition and physical activity; read the seed catalogues and get a head start in planning your garden during the winter months. Thinking about going back to school or starting a new career? What better time than now to jumpstart your decision by doing your research now. Get the picture?

6. Donate your time and talents this holiday season.
This can be a most gratifying experience during the holidays. Begin by checking out the internet or use your local business directory to identify a local homeless shelter that may be able to use your help during their busiest time of the year. Make the initial contact and offer to volunteer 3-4 hours of time in helping to prepare and serve food, or help with clean up.

There you have it. These simple suggestions on how to approach the upcoming season can help to you beat the holiday blues this season.

Additional Resources:
Rosenthal, Norman E. (2006). "Winter Blues, Revised Edition: Everything You Need to Know to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder" by Norman E. Rosenthal (Hardcover - Sep 16, 2006). NY: Guildford Press.

Tucker, Clarence, Dr. (2007). "Holiday Blues: A self-help manual on grief through the holidays." (Paperback)
Centering Corporation.

Author's Bio: 

Bette Lawrence-Water, M.S., CPC, is a community health advocate and certified professional coach with more than 25 years experience in helping people and organizations reach optimum performance. She is recognized as an educator, public speaker, and master collaborator. She embraces the philosphy of "To lead is to serve." She facilitates dynamic workshops on personal improvement, leadership development, volunteer recruitment.