The holidays are often synonymous with family, love and general optimism about the world and your fellow man. But for many, the holidays are just another thing to get through. And between Secret Santas and company parties, it can be particularly difficult to stave off the depression and stay at the top of your game. It may be especially hard this year with so much change and uncertainty. But fear not! Below are four practical ways to beat the holiday blues:
Do Everything In Moderation.
This time of year is all about excess. More food, more gifts, more parties, more family time, etc. It can be easy to over plan and overindulge. Pace yourself. Avoid creating a schedule so full of holiday fun that it becomes more like work. Be careful not to drink or eat excessively, which can cause or deepen depression during the holidays. Buy less and expect less to minimize stress, both mentally and fiscally. It is also important to moderate your expectations about the holidays. Do not get caught up in the chase for perfection. Do your best and accept that even the best-laid plans can unravel. Balance is what matters the most.
Be A Grinch.
Sometimes, all that seasonal cheer is more than any one person can handle, especially in the workplace. Between the costume contests, the office decorations, the potlucks- the seemingly endless list of events to promote the holiday spirit can be quite overwhelming. This can be especially difficult if the holidays are a reminder of a break-up or lost loved one. The best course of action is to take a step back. Adopt some grinch qualities (minus the whole destroying Christmas bit). It is okay not to participate in the myriad of holiday activities both inside and outside the office. Take some time for yourself and do something completely unfestive. Have some self-development courses you have been putting off? Need to catch up on that must-see show that apparently everyone else in the entire universe has seen? Treat yourself to some anti-holiday fun.
Socialize (On Your Own Terms).
While it may be tempting, do not completely isolate during the holidays. Although the increase in social engagements can trigger depression and anxiety, retreating into solitude is not the answer. Instead, be selective about who you socialize with and how you do it. If work is typically a stressor for you, mixing alcohol with co-workers you have less than fond feelings for may not be the best plan. If you and your family always end up fighting during the holidays, maybe skip on that dinner at grandma’s place. Spend time with people who uplift you. Go to places where you feel comfortable and safe. If going out feels too overwhelming, call or text someone for a chat. The important thing is to maintain contact with others. This helps minimize those feelings of disconnection and loneliness.
Ask For Help.
During this season of giving, asking for help may seem absurd, selfish even. Especially if things in your life are going relatively well or you know of others who are in greater need. But if you are experiencing bouts of sadness or loneliness, things are not okay. Your mental health is just as important as maintaining your environmental and physical needs. Do not shrug off the mood swings or assume the dips in energy and motivation will simply disappear. Reach out to loved ones. Seek support groups or therapy to manage feelings of stress and hopelessness. Find out what resources your company has to help those dealing with depression and anxiety. Do not be afraid to state what you need, even if it feels silly. Often, there are more people willing to help than you think.
Bonus Tip: Give yourself a break. Do not beat yourself up because you are struggling. Do not feel obligated to pretend because it makes others more comfortable. Let go of the guilt for declining that holiday party invite or not participating in the company gift exchange. It is okay to not be at the top of your game (despite what the title says). Sometimes just taking care of yourself is enough.