Not everyone is feeling holly and jolly this time of year. Perhaps you’ve lost your job, are dealing with an illness or are looking after a sick loved one. Or you may not have family or friends around and will be on your own for the holidays.
It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some people, but when your own circumstances don’t match up with what you’re seeing around you, it can be difficult to stay upbeat.
Be kind to yourself
One thing that can help is to focus on little things that that you like doing on your own terms. That can be as simple as putting some time aside to do an activity you enjoy, planning a delicious supper for yourself, or even taking a walk to get some fresh air and clear your head.
Stay in the moment
Some people find that practising mindfulness improves mood and helps you focus on one thing at a time, without worrying about everything else that’s on your plate. It can give you a greater sense of purpose and may even help stave off mental and physical illness.
Focus on others
Helping others is another way to feel better. This time of year, many community organizations need volunteers and donations to help families and seniors who are struggling. Consider donating toys, warm clothing and personal-care items to homeless and women’s shelters. Or help an elderly neighbour shovel their driveway, offer to pick up their groceries or just drop by for a visit.
Take the pressure off
There’s a lot of pressure during the holidays to shop, decorate and bake, on top of spending time with family and friends. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out trying to do it all.
When you’re not feeling up for it, social situations with colleagues and family members can be draining. To help manage your stress at events, plan ahead. Think about who will be there and what conversations might trigger tension. It’s okay to take a break and leave the conversation – or the room.
The consumer-driven side of the holidays can be stressful, too. Pressure to buy “the perfect gift” for family members and friends can zap all joy from the season, particularly if you’re strapped for time and money. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, cut back on the number of gifts you’re giving.
Go cold turkey on social media
The perception that everyone else is having a great time over the holidays can make it even harder to be positive. Remember that the happy faces filling your Facebook feed are often not an accurate picture of what people are truly experiencing. What’s more, spending a lot of time online can make you feel even worse when you’re down.
Ultimately, surviving the holidays is not about being the happiest elf on the shelf. But there are plenty of things you can do that will help you respond more positively to the inevitable stress of the season.