Some people just LOVE the holiday season and it brings so much joy and tradition to their homes. Although it’s hard for me to admit without seeming like a Grinch, I don’t particularly love this time of year. From setting the clocks back and having shorter days, to the leaves falling and the rain beginning (or for some, snow), it can feel a little down and depressing. I’m sure there are others who feel the same way.
With the hustle and stress of holiday pressure, the poor eating and increased drinking and a To Do list with too many items to count, I feel some anxiety during this season that is supposed to be merry and bright. When talking to friends and acquaintances, I have noticed the dichotomy between their joy and stress. I think it’s really important for people, and especially for moms who inherently get the larger portion of the To Do list, to make time for things that increase their happiness and decrease stress. I have come up with a list of things that have helped me, and I’m hoping if you are feeling some holiday blues perhaps they will help you too!
1 | Take a 15-minute walk alone on a sunny day and enjoy the beauty in the many colors of the leaves (or maybe where you live it’s the snow on the trees or the waves of the ocean). If you have winter blues, the sunshine and the vitamin D help to relieve it.
2 | Get a massage after the kids go to sleep. I use the company Zeel and had a 75-minute massage before bed the other night—super relaxing and stress relieving.
3 | Say no to an event that feels like you should go to but actually don’t really want to. I was invited to two holiday tree lightings and with a one-, two-, and eight-year-old, I knew this would be a disaster and not deliver the holiday cheer it was supposed to bring. Saying no and choosing something easy at home such as a holiday music dance party was definitely a better choice for my stress level.
4 | Go out to lunch alone and have a huge healthy salad. I know not everyone can get out for lunch without kids in tow, but if you can, that 30-45 minutes is a great reset. I enjoy something for my body to balance the holiday treats and I spend that time organizing my schedule and To Do list. I feel lighter both physically and mentally when I have structure and order combined with healthy food and a few deep breaths.
5 | Exercise—do your body good. Don’t wait for the New Year. Along with healthy eating, exercise helps improve the blues and makes you feel less guilty when you do have that second piece of chocolate or glass of wine. I recently started working out with a trainer. I know it’s a luxury to do so, but I also know that my mental and physical well-being is imperative for myself and for my family.
6 | Have a weeknight date night with your spouse. This time of year, it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and feel too tired to go out at night. I find that when I make the effort to spend time without television or the computer and sit at a bar having a small bite and glass of wine, my husband and I have a chance to connect.
7 | Make yourself a happy song playlist. I spend a lot of time in my car. I often use that time to catch up on phone calls or listen to the news (which can be depressing). I recently added a bunch of feel-good songs to a playlist and when I’m having some blues I stop what I was doing and listen to this.
8 | Get a car wash. If you have kids like mine, your car is a bit of a mess (okay, that is an understatement). After a good rain, I love to get my car washed and vacuumed out. Having a clean car is one of those small things that puts me in a better mood.
9 | Allow yourself the space to feel all the feels. Know that holiday stress or blues is super common and you are not alone. Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t always bopping around humming Jingle Bells. Be gentle with yourself; it’s okay to let out a good cry or scream. After you let it out, ask yourself what would make YOU happy. What can you do for yourself that will ease your sadness or stress and get you through the winter/holiday blues?
*And Spring is less than 85 days away (but who’s counting)
If you think you’re battling with more than just the holiday blues, remember that help is only a phone call away. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now: 1-800-273-8255.