As the holiday season approaches, it’s good to be aware that the blues can overtake us. Many times, families have expectations that drive stress: either that things should be perfect; or that things will probably be super-hard, and we won’t know how to respond.
The first step is to recognize the difficulty. Look for these feelings:
Watch for “HALT”: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Any of these signs can exacerbate the blues.
- Hungry: Make sure you’re eating and drinking in moderation. When we’re feeling down, alcohol actually makes it worse, because it’s a depressant—so choose water or apple cider with dinner.
- Angry: Take care of anger by listening consciously. Here is a TED Talk about how conscious listening can help in our relationships.
- Lonely: Listening also takes care of loneliness. Talking openly can be very helpful.
- Tired: Get enough sleep—not too little, not too much. Sometimes oversleeping can make the blues worse, and getting out of bed on the early side can help.
Get out paints, paper, and markers! The creative process actually releases chemicals in the brain that counter depression.
Finally, it’s important to be aware of and to adjust expectations. Holiday times trigger unrealistic expectations that everyone will automatically get along and that there will magically be no conflict. When conflict happens, our bubbles burst and we can become fearful or resentful.
This is why taking quiet time for ourselves at holiday gatherings is so important. A five-minute breather in an empty bedroom, or checking in with SOVA on your phone with our new app, can help reset our minds and remember that we can’t control anyone else’s behavior but our own.
What are some ways you have found to help yourself cope with holiday stress? Sharing our experience not only helps others, it also helps ourselves—so let us know your ideas in the comments!