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Finding the Holiday Spirit: Shopping

15. Forget about the perfect gift. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, now is not the time to fret about finding the absolute best gift ever for your great aunt or your mailman. Remember: everybody likes a gift certificate.

16. Shop online. Save yourself the inconvenience, the crowds, and the horrors of the mall parking lot by doing the bulk of your shopping online.

17. Stick to a budget. The cost of holiday shopping mounts quickly and can make people feel out of control and anxious. So draw up a budget long before you actually start your shopping and stick to it.

Finding the Holiday Spirit: Self-Care

18. Stay on schedule. As much as you possibly can, try to stick with your normal routine during the holidays. Don’t stay too late at parties. Don’t pull an all-nighter wrapping presents. Disrupting your schedule and losing out on sleep can make your mood deteriorate.

19. Exercise. While you may not feel like you have the time to exercise during the holidays, the benefits are worth it. “We know that exercise has a pretty strong anti-anxiety, anti-depression effect,” says Duckworth. You can work physical activity into your errands. When you’re shopping, take a few extra laps around the mall. Walk your Christmas cards to the post office instead of driving.

20. Eat sensibly. When you’re facing a dozen holiday parties and family gatherings between now and New Year’s, it’s hard to stay committed to a sensible diet. But try. Eating healthy may keep you feeling better -- physically and emotionally. On the other hand, don’t beat yourself up if you go overboard on the cookie platter in the break room. It’s not a big deal. Just get back on track the next day.

21. Don’t rely on holiday spirits (or other substances.) “The holidays are a time of heavy drinking,” says Duckworth. “It’s a common strategy for getting over anxiety about holiday parties or having the boss as your Secret Santa.” Remember that alcohol is itself a depressant and abusing it will leave you feeling worse. It also may not be safe for people taking antidepressant medication, says Pope.

22. Try a sun lamp. As the daylight grows shorter, lots of people find their mood gets gloomier. While some have diagnosed seasonal affective disorder (SAD), even people who don’t may still have a seasonal aspect to their depression. Talk to your doctor about trying a sun lamp. It could improve your mood.

23. If you take medication, don’t miss doses. In the hustle of the holidays, it’s easy to slack off and miss medication, says Pope. Don’t let that happen. Make sure that you’re up-to-date on your refills, too.

10 Triggers for Holiday Blues

Typical causes of holiday stress -- and what you can do about them.
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