13 Surefire Ways to Combat Holiday Blues Without a Therapist


            We’ve all felt it. No one wants to talk about it. The lack of motivation, sleep problems (either the desire to sleep too much, or insomnia), anxiety, weight gain, anger, and the list goes on. When I worked as a mental health and substance abuse counselor, I received more crisis calls this time of year than any other time. We know it’s probably statistically incorrect, but this time of year we seem to lose more people we love than any other time. Maybe it’s not so much that we lose more of them, but we definitely miss them. The list of goals unaccomplished, mistakes made, etc. Everything seems to hit us with force this time of year. The gleeful shoppers and holiday fanatics around us make the void even deeper. Well, enough of that! Try these practices to arm yourself against the blues:

1.     Purchase a journal – something that personifies you. Use it to keep a record of these exercises. The pic above is one of my favorite journals.

2. The moment you open your eyes, instead of saying “ugh!” meditate on at least three things that went right the day before. Do this before you get out of bed and start your hectic day. As you list these things, say “thank you.” Whether you’re angry with God, doubting the existence of God, whatever. You can deal with that later. For now, just say “thank you” for three good things. I usually start by saying "thank you for waking me up this morning."

3.     Start a month-to-month list of your accomplishments this year. Doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering to anyone else, i.e., “January 2012, I lost 2 lbs., performed 3 solos, helped my daughter make a life decision, wrote 10,000 words, reviewed 2 books, read 6 books,” you get the idea.

4.     Develop a realistic exercise plan – in other words, start slow, maybe 3 days a week for 20 minutes, but be specific and consistent. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll feel after 2 weeks. As the experts say, make sure you consult with your physician before embarking on any exercise plan, but one of the safest, simplest exercises is walking. You can spice it up with music, wii, etc.

5.     Complete a diet inventory. Not “diet” like eating only celery sticks and carrots, but “diet” in terms of which foods make you feel bad after eating them (toxic foods), and which foods improve your health (system supporting foods). Everyone is different, and only you can really complete this inventory. Be honest. You’re not making any changes yet, just gathering information. If you’re doubtful, consult with a dietitian.

6.     Now, use your diet inventory to develop a healthy eating plan specific to you and your lifestyle. No crash foolishness. Cleansing is okay within reason, but treat your body with respect. The key is balance. You’re still not changing anything yet, just developing a plan of action.

7.     Set one and two year goals for every area of your life – mental, physical, spiritual. This should include relationships, career, hobbies, what we like to call your “lifestyle.” Good goals are broken into achievable portions with a list of actions or steps necessary to reach each goal, a timeline, and materials needed. I find it helpful to list goals by the day, week, month, and year. I also suggest using your smart phone to keep “to do” lists for each day. Here’s an example: “In the month of January, I will set aside one day a week to go to lunch with the girls.”

8.     Get organized! Everything should have a home – saves you time and frustration, not to mention how accomplished you feel when you get things in order.  These are just a couple of guides for the organizationally challenged J  http://www.amazon.com/Decluttering-Your-Home-Declutter-ebook/dp/B0075FH5GA/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1355891032&sr=1-1&keywords=decluttering+your+home

9.     Make a list of the influential people in your life – family, friends, acquaintances, even antagonists. What have they added to your life? I know. Apart from a pain in the butt, it can be hard to find anything the antagonist or even that troublesome family member has added, but think about it. One of my most irritating antagonists has helped to make me stronger. Nothing strengthens you like realizing that everybody doesn’t have to love you, and you’re still okay.

10.    Take a weekend sabbatical. You don’t even have to leave town, but if you live within, say, 60 miles of a more peaceful or exciting (whichever one invigorates you) location, go for it! Take your journal and get away from everyone and everything stressful.

11.   As soon as you get back from your sabbatical, start your new “diet” plan by eliminating one of the foods you identified that makes you feel bad for one week. Just one week. You should have a list from step #5, so after eliminating a toxic food for one week, do the same the next week, eliminating another toxic food from your diet. Continue until you are only eating foods that support your system.

12. Declutter your social and personal life. Life is full of things we have to do but don't enjoy doing, but we have a tendency to add to the mundane and annoying by continuing unpleasant tasks out of obligation or habit. Cut this to a minimum. Anything you're doing that you don't enjoy and don't have to do, stop it! Spend that time doing something you enjoy.

13.    Now that you’ve got yourself back on track, perform one random act of kindness each day. It doesn’t have to cost any money, and doesn’t even have to take a lot of time, but it should be something selfless and unexpected. If you do it in secret, that’s even better. Try these thirteen things and I guarantee you’ll beat the blues.

You've probably developed some strategies over the years. What helps you combat the Holiday blues?


Fire Shadow said…
The above list is good. To it, I would add watch "It's a Wonderful Life". Seriously.
Dariel Raye said…
Good suggestion. That was one of my Grandmother's favorite movies. It is uplifting.