Time off should always be a blessing. Unfortunately, many people find themselves short on time and long on stress during the holidays. Many of us have shopping lists that are way too long. Others find themselves in conflict with family or are lonely at the holidays. Here are some ways how to beat the holiday blues.
How to Beat the Holiday Blues
If the holidays present you with more stress than happiness, read on for tips on how to manage those holiday blues.
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Boycott gift giving
Depending on how radical you feel, you can join the growing number of people who feel like holiday gift giving is just circulating a lot of junk around the universe. Does anybody really want or need a rolling brandy snifter?
But how do you explain to people that you’ve decided not to participate in the gifting circus any longer? Here are some handy lines:
- You just read Scroogenomics, and it opened your eyes to the pointlessness of gift giving.
- You’re in the process of converting to Quakerism which discourages materialism.
- You gave all of your gift money to the Dalai Lama or Greenpeace or the Red Cross (whether you did or not).
The earlier you warn people about your new no-gifts philosophy, the better. They need time to decide whether they really need to give you something.
Boycotting gifts saves you from futile hours in the mall, searching for gizmos that may or may not be well received. It saves you from standing in line. That is time saved that you can spend working on your own mental health. Read a book, bake your favorite pie, learn some new coping mantras. Make the holidays about you and how you want to spend your precious time away from work.
Bail on the seasonal music
Does hearing “Jingle Bells” bring you down? It’s not your imagination. There is now clinical evidence that listening to holiday music is bad for your mental health. People who work in retail and have to listen to holiday music all day long are, of course, at the highest risk.
Christmas jingles can trigger emotions and memories which may not be positive. One verse of “The Christmas Song” can so easily take you back to the winter your boyfriend broke up with you. It’s a good idea to be aware of how seasonal tunes are affecting you, and remove yourself from stores and coffee shops that are blasting them around the clock.
Make animals your Christmas family
Family can be seriously disappointing. People often give themselves needless stress by carting themselves and children onto an airplane at the worst travel season to visit parents who stand in judgment on them all.
Here’s a newsflash: You don’t have to do that to yourself. If you are looking for a line to get you out of family gatherings, you can always use, “My therapist recommends against it,” whether you have a therapist or not.
The holidays are a great time to bond with the family member who will never let you down: your dog. These are also good days to get a dog, if you have not yet discovered the joys of unconditional love.
Numerous studies show that animals are good therapy. In general, pets lower blood pressure, heart rate, and risk of heart disease. People who pet an animal, even one without a fur coat, such a turtle, get immediate physical benefits. And you can’t swap out a stuffed animal: It’s not the same, and science has made that official.
So, hang out with your dog for the holidays. Take him on some long walks. The walks are good for you, both physically and mentally. Your dog loves to walk with you, and seeing a dog happy makes the walker happy.
The key to having a stress-free holiday season is to carefully examine your own needs and what you want to get out of the holidays. If that’s a feeling of affection and time to do the things you enjoy, consider spending the holiday season with your dog and your Beatles albums, and give stressful traditions a miss.