“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”
At least that’s what song lyrics, our friends’ posts on social media, and advertisements for the perfect gift tell us. In reality, though, the holidays can be difficult for many reasons:
• Financial hardships can cause people to feel sad, angry, or ashamed if they can’t afford to buy gifts or participate in common holiday activities.
• Symptoms of clinical depression can intensify during the holidays due to stress and expectations that the season be joyful and merry.
• Grief can be particularly painful during the holidays as those who have lost friends or family feel an increased sense of sorrow that they are not able be with loved ones.
• Loneliness may be exacerbated for those who don’t have anyone to enjoy the season with.
• Estrangements from family members or divorce from a spouse can add another layer of stress, anxiety, and sorrow to an already hectic time.
Unfortunately, no amount of holiday magic can remove financial burdens, cure depression, bring back a loved one, or reverse a divorce. But there are things you can do to help you better cope with grief and sorrow during the holidays. Here are ten tips for getting through the rest of the year:
1. Acknowledge that the holiday season will be difficult.
The simple act of acceptance can bring a measure of peace and keep you from buying into the myth that everything has to be perfect at this time of year.
2. Prioritize, minimize, and cut back where you can.
Make a list of the things that cause you the most stress during the holidays and decide just how important they are. This might mean you skip sending Christmas cards this year to save money or to save yourself from stress. If you’re mired in exhaustion, it could mean that you give yourself permission to miss a holiday gathering and take a nap instead. If there is something you’ve simply never enjoyed about the holidays, don’t do it this year!
3. Don’t feel guilty about what you cut out!
4. Bundle up and go outdoors on sunny days.
Combat the sadness that sometimes comes from shorter days and longer, darker nights by taking advantage of the sunshine whenever you can. A brisk walk on a sunny day is good for both the body and the mind.
5. Don’t isolate yourself.
Let a few people you love and trust know how you’re feeling and ask for their help or companionship. If you’re depressed, this is especially important because withdrawing from others—while it may seem easier and more desirable—almost always intensifies depression. Socializing and sharing your feelings with others, on the other hand, often alleviates symptoms.
6. Practice self-care. Get enough rest. Exercise.
If you can afford it, get a massage or take time out of your day to do something you enjoy, like reading a book, seeing a movie, or getting lunch with a friend.
Serving others provides perspective and a sense of accomplishment. It also distracts you from feelings of sorrow and loneliness. There are hundreds of service opportunities available: volunteer at a soup kitchen or food bank, donate blood, organize a food drive, collect gifts to bring to a children’s hospital, play board games with someone in a care center, shovel your neighbor’s driveway the next time it snows, bake and deliver cookies or goodies to your local fire department.
8. Don’t compare.
Avoid comparing yourself to others. Also, avoid comparing this year’s holiday happenings to those from the past. Comparison robs you of joy and prevents you from living in the present and finding peace with who you are.
9. Stick to a budget.
Even if you’re not in financial distress, sticking to a budget will help you feel less stressed and more like you’re in control.
10. Get professional help.
A licensed therapist can provide coping strategies and a listening ear.
Essential Oil Tips
Staying healthy during the holiday season is particularly important if you struggle with depression or are mourning a loss because being sick can prevent you from practicing the coping skills listed above.
Essential oils can help boost your immune system and relieve common runny nose symptoms. Here are three blends to try:
1. This blend doubles as a wonderful holiday scent and a great way to clear upper respiratory congestion: diffuse 1 drop cassia, 4 drops white fir, and 4 drops wild orange.
2. On Guard, DoTerra’s protective blend, can be used in a variety of ways to boost the immune system and kill germs. Diffuse a few drops to purify the air; take 2 to 3 drops in a veggie capsule twice a day to protect your immune system; fill a spray bottle with 12 ounces of water, add 10 drops On Guard, and spray to disinfect door knobs, counter tops, light switches, and other frequently touched germ magnets around the house.
3. This blend both purifies the air and fills the room with a spicy, warm holiday aroma: diffuse 1 drop cinnamon bark, 3 drops ginger, and 6 drops wild orange.
Check out the Good Mood Bootcamp course for more natural solutions to stay happy and healthy this holiday season!
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