10 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues

200-shopBy Kim Cress, MD –

Can you believe the holidays are here? If Fort Bend were a winter wonderland  with snow covered trees, I know I would be in the holiday spirit. Holidays can be a festive time. It is a time to spend with family and friends, eating foods that are not on your diet and listening to joyous music like White Christmas.  But, the holidays can also be stressful raising many issues. How do I find just the right gift without breaking the bank?  How am I going to get everything done?  Or, for many, the holidays can also be a lonely time with having no loved ones to spend the holiday with. Especially in difficult economic times, the holiday blues are likely to be more prominent. I commonly get asked, “How do I beat the holiday blues?”  Here are 10 suggestions.

1. Minimize your stress. Get your holiday shopping, decorating and Christmas cards completed early. Give your family a deadline to complete their Christmas wish list to prevent last minute shopping. One afternoon, put on your favorite Christmas video and have the entire family help address, stamp, stuff and seal Christmas cards.

2. Attend one of the local holiday markets. The perfect way to get into the holiday spirit, attend a holiday market such as Sugar Plum or The Nutcracker Market.  You can stroll down the aisles admiring the Christmas decorations while you are listening to festive music. And, while you are shopping for others, don’t forget to pick up that one special trinket for yourself!

3. Enjoy the arts. At Jones Hall for the Performing Arts, you can take the family to see Cirque Dreams: Holidaze. Fort Bend Ballet and Houston Ballet have performances of The Nutcracker.  The Fort Bend Boys Choir and local churches have holiday performances as well.

4. Don’t forget “me” time. Make an effort to schedule some time to relax.  If you need time to just take a deep breath and sit, go get a manicure and pedicure with a friend. This gives you the opportunity to have one hour to just sit, relax and catch up with a friend.

5. Schedule a date with your mate. Holidays are associated with so many festivities that often, couples have little time for themselves. Why not go to The Woodlands for a night or weekend? This will give you time to spend together and get some Christmas shopping done as well. Or, attend that holiday party but enjoy a quiet dinner for two before you go. And best of all, eating before you go is a great way to avoid having too much of a good thing and getting an unwanted gift – extra holiday pounds!

6. Be an elf. If loneliness is the reason for your holiday blues, then create opportunities to be with others by volunteering. With Meals on Wheels, you can deliver meals to the elderly. The Sugar Land Exchange Club is always looking for volunteers to help distribute Christmas presents to the less fortunate. Harvard University conducted a recent study revealing we can get our greatest joy from helping others, so get involved and help others this holiday season.

7. Adopt a pet. If you are an animal lover, go to your local animal shelter and adopt. If you do not want the responsibility of pet ownership, then just go to the shelter and love on – and be loved – by an animal. Enjoy – and share – the unconditional love that animals provide.

8. Get moving with exercise. One study from Duke University revealed regular exercise can be equally as effective in treating mild depression as the antidepressant Zoloft. If you do not enjoy traditional exercise, such as running or weight lifting, then find a form of exercise you would enjoy. Maybe dance lessons or yoga are the exercise options for you. Try belly dancing or even pole dancing, but get out there and get moving!

9. Create a blessing diary. In your diary, write down five things you are thankful for each day. I think each of us will be surprised how much we have to be thankful for, and also, how much we tend to take for granted.

10. Establish new traditions. The holidays can evoke many emotions, and grief is not uncommon during the holidays. This is a time to reflect on good times shared in the past, as well as family members we have lost. I see some individuals stop celebrating the holidays because it only brings back difficult memories for them. I encourage families to establish new traditions. Change up your Christmas decorations. Have your holiday meal on Christmas Eve instead of Christmas Day and change up the menu. Start new traditions with your loved ones to help you make new, more pleasant memories.

The holidays can be a difficult time of the year, or they can be a time of great joy. Ultimately, the choice is yours. My holiday wish to you is to make choices in your life to find the joy, not only during the holiday season but every day of the year! Happy Holidays!