The holiday season is generally considered a time for joy and celebration—but that doesn’t hold true for everyone.
The holidays can mean increased stress levels and decreased financial security, and for many, grief may resurface, as the season can serve as a reminder of lost loved ones. Meanwhile, the approach of the end of the year may stir up regret about missed opportunities and anxiety about a new year. In all, the holiday blues are a very real risk for many.
Just like the fleeting nature of the season itself, those feelings don’t need to stick around for long—because there are ways you can be proactive about kicking the holiday blues to the curb. Here are a few healthy strategies for boosting your mood this holiday season:
Listen and respond to your red flags
When you feel down or stressed and try to ignore it, those feelings will likely escalate—and can set off a complete cycle of negativity. Instead, try to nip your bad mood right in the bud by being more aware of what’s triggering you, and what it feels like. If you start to recognize the physical symptoms of anxiety each time you hit the mall or a store for some last-minute holiday shopping, take a break from all that stimulation and grab some gifts online; or even take a step back from gift-giving and commit to sharing time with loved ones instead of items.
By being more in tune with your body and your mind, you can better understand what it’s trying to tell you. And when you can do that, it’s easier to put strategies in place to avoid what’s bringing you down and focus instead on maintaining your mood.
Lean on your support network
Family and friends are always a good source of support, but consider expanding that network to include community groups or your employer. Employers, in particular, can connect you to a range of resources. For instance, many employers offer employee assistance programs that can facilitate counseling, along with employee affinity groups to build a sense of community. Some organizations encourage employees to take mental health days to work on their wellness and even offer financial support for wellness costs like gym memberships and yoga classes.
That’s why it’s important to consider wellness when you’re evaluating your next employer. Think ahead about the benefits you’re looking for when it comes to wellness and understand whether the culture of your prospective employer is one that values your whole health—if not, move on!
A powerful antidote to the holiday blues is action. Feeling down about today? Plan for tomorrow! If you feel restless in your job, start brainstorming for your next big opportunity. If you’re worried about having the right skills to score that promotion, enroll in a class. Make a list of goals for 2024, places you’d like to visit or experiences you want to have—and strategize for how to make it happen. Think realistic but think big. With a plan in place, you can build confidence and excitement—and send the holiday blues packing!
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