For some people, the holidays are filled with cheer, but for others, they bring what’s known as the holiday blues – with symptoms that may include insomnia, sadness, anxiety, headaches, digestive issues and other problems.
Mood changes are often a result of an abundance of stress, overeating and drinking or fatigue. With so many demands, such as shopping, cooking, taking care of house guests, hosting or attending parties, travel as well as the additional financial burden, it’s no wonder that the holidays can worsen or even induce depression.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent or at least alleviate the holiday blues.
Make time for exercise
Physical activity is nature’s best antidepressant, and there are no negative side effects, just lots of positive ones like better health, more energy, improved self-confidence, and much more.
Choosing good mood foods
Good eating habits can help you cope better with stress, prevent depression and even boost your mood. Include endorphin releasing foods that help to raise “happy hormone” levels such as dark chocolate (preferably at least 70% cacao), strawberries, grapes, nuts and seeds.
Avoiding processed foods and limiting alcohol as well as caffeine can also help alleviate symptoms of depression. If you do decide to drink, don’t overindulge as this will exacerbate depression.
Be reasonable when it comes to creating a schedule. Overbooking yourself into a state of exhaustion often leads to irritability, poor mood and even depression. Set priorities and let go of impossible goals.
You may need to simplify your holiday commitments and traditions. Have a discussion with your family about the most important traditions for you and to them and consider re-evaluating those that can be let go.
If at all possible, find the time to give back to your community by volunteering to serve meals at a homeless shelter, visiting children who are hospitalized or the elderly in a nursing home. There are many other opportunities for doing community service as it’s nearly impossible to feel depressed while giving to others.
Did you know you can breathe your way out of stress? Deep breathing helps to relax the body, mind and spirit, helping to prevent or ease symptoms of depression.
To begin, sit in a comfortable chair, keeping your back straight and your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands on your belly, just below your rib cage. Now inhale, expanding your belly by drawing the breath through your nose. You should feel your hands move slightly.
Don’t hold your breath; keep your mouth open just a little and allow the belly to contract, gently pushing the breath out of your mouth. Repeat this for several minutes, focusing on the breath rather than any worries you might have.
If your thoughts begin to wander, let them wander back out. You might want to picture them as a cloud that slowly floats away. Practice for several minutes every day working up to about 10 minutes each time.
If you’re still experiencing some feelings of sadness, remember that the choice to be happy or sad is all yours. You can choose to see the glass as half full and feel more joy this holiday season, it’s all up to you!
-The Alternative Daily