BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES & SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)
During the holiday season, we’re inundated with movies and advertisements of festive families who all seem so happy, peaceful, beautiful… you know, perfect. For most of us mere mortals, though, the holiday season often brings up some conflicting emotions:
- Happiness over seeing family and friends
- Stress over budgeting for and buying gifts
- Overwhelm when ensuring that everything is perfect for company
On top of this, seasonal affective disorder–a type of depression that is related to the changing seasons–can also leave you feeling more fatigued and emotional during the fall and winter months, thanks to fewer daylight hours and less sunlight.
If you’re experiencing the holiday blues or struggling with seasonal affective disorder, try these strategies that I guide my clients through every day. You’ll learn to shift your perspective and actually enjoy the end of the year!
TIP #1: GO FOR GRATITUDE
Rather than heading into the holidays with a laundry list of shortcomings and complaints, flip the narrative around. Every day, recognize a few things that you’re grateful for, such as:
- Sunshine and flowers outside
- A healthy body
- Friendships and loved ones
- Good food to eat
- A home to sleep in
Jotting down a short list every day is a powerful tool to beat the holiday blues and seasonal affective disorder. It makes your gratitude “real,” which is huge considering that the positive effects of gratitude can last for months afterward! Plus, keeping a gratitude journal can be a great way to track positive progress.
Finally, noticing the things you normally take for granted and expressing your gratitude “rewires” your brain in a positive way, helping you to become happier and less depressed. Studies have found that gratitude can also move you away from negative emotions like resentment and envy. So, make your gratitude list a daily habit this holiday season.
TIP #2: PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Our lives are awfully busy these days, even more so during the packed holiday season and end-of-the-year crunch. Mindfulness techniques like meditation, which have been practiced for thousands of years, can prioritize our mental and physical wellness during hectic times and throughout the year.
Mindfulness enables us to simply exist only in the moment without being pulled forward or backward. We can ease into situations and experience things–good or bad–as they come our way, without judgment. Research shows that mindfulness benefits our mental health as well as our hearts, immune systems, brains, and more.
If you catch yourself constantly worrying about what’s next, obsessing over something from the past that can’t be changed, or agonizing over making everything perfect during the holidays, turn to mindfulness. The following techniques can beat back the holiday blues and ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder.
- Take a few deep breaths. Focus on the breath flowing through your body.
- Scan your body, starting at your feet and moving upwards.
- Notice your five senses–note five things you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste.
- Practice moments of self-compassion.
- Take a walk and focus on being present with the sights, sounds, and feelings.
The next step is to apply this approach to all areas of life. Melt into conversation at the holiday table, really listen, and stay in the here and now. The year end will feel a whole lot more enjoyable.
TIP #3: EAT PURPOSEFULLY
Holiday celebrations (and those cold winter months) tend to involve a lot of food. It’s easy to wolf down meals, barely giving them a second thought until you feel lethargic or unhealthy.
Take a second to slow down. The next time you grab for a plate, clear your head and focus on what you’re eating.
- What does it smell like?
- What’s the texture like?
- How does the food feel in your mouth?
- Which areas of your mouth are responding?
By taking the time to be present while eating, you’ll feel more fulfilled by your food and enjoy the experience.
YOU CAN BEAT THE HOLIDAY BLUES AND SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Small changes go a long way. Shifting your perspective can mean the difference between feeling overwhelmed by the holiday blues and truly enjoying your time with yourself and your loved ones.
If you need help making the shift and overcoming depression, anxiety, seasonal affective disorder, eating disorders, or similar challenges this holiday season, please reach out to me. I’m passionate about providing you with the tools you need to better understand what you’re going through and how to make healthy choices, so you can find happiness.