There's no denying it; the holiday season can be demanding. In fact, according to a 2019 study, 88% of Americans feel the holiday season is most stressful time of year. If you're feeling blue this month, we are here to help. Here are some ways to beat holiday blues—and enjoy the season—without feeling exhausted or overwhelmed.
1. Be proactive
- Plan. If you can plan your week, maybe even the month in advance, do it! Having a clear idea of what you want to do is a great stress reliever. Make a list, check it twice.
- Set clear expectations. What are the most important things on your calendar? Is there anything that can be done earlier or later to free up time during the holidays?
- Find a balance between what family and friends want from their holiday with what you need from yours (and vice versa). No one should feel guilty for taking care of themselves. Don’t overspend all day at grandma's house watching football if that's not something you enjoy doing.
2. Practice self-care
Sometimes, the best way to beat the holiday blues is to take time for yourself. Whether you're spending time with friends and family or doing something that you love, it's important to remember that your mental health is just as important as anything else during this time of year.
If taking a break from holiday responsibilities isn't an option, here are some other things you can do:
- Take a nap. This can be especially helpful if you've been up late the night before.
- Go for a walk. Getting fresh air and moving around will help clear your head (and get rid of any extra calories).
- Pause. Take a deep breath in and exhale out—this helps reset our nervous system to relieve overwhelm in the moment.
- Watch a movie. Having some fun with friends or family members may be just what's needed!
- Listen to a guided meditation. Try one of Cabana’s Mindful Moments, like this short nature grounding exercise here.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Holidays can be hard on everyone in different ways and there are many ways we could all take better care of ourselves during the season. If these tips haven't helped yet, try doing something else entirely: reflect on what went well this year instead of thinking about how stressful everything has become lately—maybe there will still be good things after all!
3. Ask for help
Don't be afraid to ask for help:
- Ask your friends, family members, and other loved ones for assistance.
- Ask a professional if you feel more comfortable doing so (e.g., a therapist). This can help you to sort through problems while also providing emotional support and guidance in navigating the emotional challenges of the season.
- Reach out, especially if you're feeling isolated or lonely this season, connect with others who are going through similar struggles, or join a support group. Our signature Cabana session: Show up, Share Life, Leave Stronger is a safe space to join. Here participants are allowed to be fully seen and share what they are going through.
4. Express gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful emotion that can help you feel less stressed and more connected to those around you. According to Harvard Health, “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
The holidays are a perfect time to express gratitude for all we have in our lives. Here are some ways you can practice gratitude this season:
- Write three things you're grateful for each day. Identify things in your life that bring you joy or makes life better—even if it's something small like a favorite meal or an inspiring conversation with someone who cares about you.
- Find ways to give back during the holidays by helping others less fortunate than yourself; volunteering at your local food bank or homeless shelter will make everyone feel happier!
- Practice gratitude meditation. Join us for a quick 10-minute live group to learn how to easily add gratitude to your day. Register here. Offered on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
Remember: You don't owe anyone anything, so let yourself relax and have fun!
You don't need to go to every holiday party. Saying “No” is a complete sentence and it’s also a healthy boundary. You cannot control another person’s behavior or reaction. That’s on them. Plus, most people’s reactions aren’t about us—it’s actually about them. So, release pressure from unrealistic expectations others or you have put on yourself during this year. Listen to what is best for your holiday season.
You don't need to buy gifts for everyone on your list this year. It's okay—you can give in other ways like money, a handwritten letter, or offer quality time. Also, if there are young children in your family circles, offering to watch their kids goes a long way.
You don't need to cook for everyone this season unless it truly makes you happy (or helps pay bills). If possible, try asking people what kinds of food they prefer. Just because your mom used her special recipe for stuffing doesn't mean everyone else does too!
You got this
As the holidays draw near, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the expectations and pressures. If you are reading this, this is your sign to release any pressure from yourself, others, or society to be perfect.
Practice self-care and gratitude, ask for help when needed—even when we think we should be able to do it alone—and allow yourself to feel all the feelings as they come. You are worthy and you deserve happiness too.