Embracing Life-Affirming Behaviors Amidst the Holiday Blues

Embracing Life-Affirming Behaviors Amidst the Holiday Blues

It’s easy to assume everyone is caught up in the festive cheer of the holiday season. However, the holidays can be a challenging time, marked by a sense of loneliness, sadness, or even anxiety. According to the American Psychological Association, 38% of people surveyed said their stress increased during the holiday season, which can lead to physical illness, depression, anxiety, and substance misuse. Whether it’s due to the absence of loved ones, financial strain, or the weight of expectations, the holiday blues can cast a shadow on this otherwise joyous time of year. Choosing life-affirming strategies for coping with the holiday blues can help you find pockets of warmth and light amidst the chill.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s crucial to acknowledge and validate your feelings. It’s okay to feel a sense of sadness or loneliness during the holidays. Many factors, from personal losses to societal pressures, can contribute to these emotions. Give yourself compassion when you’re not feeling motivated or feeling discouraged.

2. Define Your Own Expectations

Part of the holiday blues often stems from societal and personal expectations. Challenge the notion that the holidays need to be picture-perfect. Define your own expectations and focus on what truly matters to you. It could be a simple gathering with close friends such as having a holiday brunch with a couple of friends or reading a good book such as a mystery that takes place around the holidays.

3. Create New Traditions

If the usual holiday traditions are a source of sadness, consider creating new ones. Whether it’s volunteering for a charitable cause, trying out a new recipe, or embarking on a solo retreat, establishing new traditions can inject a sense of purpose and novelty into the season.

4. Set Realistic Boundaries

It’s easy to succumb to the pressure of social obligations during the holidays. However, it’s essential to set realistic boundaries that align with your emotional well-being. If attending multiple events feels overwhelming, choose the ones that truly matter to you, and don’t hesitate to decline others.

5. Practice Self-Care

Take time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s reading, taking a warm bath, practicing mindfulness, or going for a walk, these small acts of self-kindness can make a significant difference in managing stress and sadness. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, for even as little as 5 to 10 minutes every few hours can foster a sense of calm and balance. 

6. Limit Social Media Exposure

While social media can offer glimpses into others’ celebrations, it can also exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. Limit your exposure to social media during the holiday season. Remember that people often showcase the highlights, not the full picture of their lives.

7. Focus on Gratitude

Shift your perspective by focusing on gratitude. Reflect on the positive aspects of your life, even if they seem small. Creating a gratitude journal or simply taking a few moments each day to acknowledge the things you’re thankful for can cultivate a sense of contentment.

8. Embrace Solitude

If the holiday blues stem from solitude, consider reframing your perspective on being alone. Embrace solitude as an opportunity for self-discovery, reflection, and rejuvenation. Nature has a remarkable ability to soothe the soul. Spend time outdoors, whether it’s a walk in the park, a hike, or simply sitting in a garden.

9. Focus on Acts of Kindness

Engage in acts of kindness, whether big or small. Helping others can be a powerful way to shift the focus from personal struggles to the positive impact you can make in the lives of others. Volunteer at a local charity, help a neighbor, or simply practice kindness in your daily interactions.

10. Reach Out for Support

If you’re feeling the holiday blues, reach out to friends, family, or a mental health professional. Share your thoughts and emotions with someone you trust. Connection is the most powerful antidote to loneliness, and as social beings creating deep connections to others will be your most powerful antidote to loneliness.

11. This Too Shall Pass

Remember this season of feeling disconnected, lonely or empty will pass. Make a decision to move through it with dignity. Stay away from addictive behaviors and embrace life-affirm ones! In a few weeks a new season will begin again. The journey to managing the holiday blues is unique for each individual, and with patience and self-care, you can discover moments of joy and contentment during this season.