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Emotional Survival Guide for the Holidays

Experts explain some simple methods for driving away the holiday blues.
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Not Going Home for the Holidays

"If you want to go to your partners' family this year and you have always gone home, simply explain that this is what you want to do and don't obsess about the consequences," Newman says. "Remember, people are really looking to get something done and they are not thinking about you as much you think they are. When you say no, they are on to the next person or task. When you say no to people, you put yourself first and during the holidays, we are always putting everybody else in front of us."

Not Burning the Yule Log on Both Ends

"Meditate," Orloff suggests. "Carve out three minutes a day to relieve stress and use your breath to calm down and focus on the positive. Picture a child's face, a waterfall or a flower."

"There's so much pressure around the holidays to perform, be happy, and look good that I would try repeating a mantra to myself," Newman says. "Say 'I will not give in to the pressure' over and over again to remind yourself that you deserve to be in control of your time."

Dashing Through the Snow

"Get outside and exercise," says psychologist Joan Borysenko, PhD. Borysenko is the author of the soon-to-be-published book Saying Yes to Change.

"This can be hard because if you live in certain parts of the country, it's cold and snowing during the holiday season. But getting outside is great because you get sun, fresh air, and exercise," she says. Exercise has been shown to boost level of endorphins, the body's natural antidepressants.

Lending Santa a Helping Hand

"Volunteer to help someone," Borysenko says. "Deliver presents for Santa or help at a homeless shelter. This is really the top thing that people can do to turn their holiday blues around. Altruism and volunteerism make you feel better about yourself, but they also get you out of your rut, home, and isolation. This is a time of year where the spirit of helping and compassion is right there, and if you can tap into it by helping others, that's great!"

Remembering That It Really Is 'A Wonderful Life'

"Be grateful for what you do have and all the positive things that have happened in your life," Orloff says. "Talk to supportive friends on the phone and find the kind of support to make you feel less lonely rather than dwelling on the loneliness."

Jain agrees. "Thinking that the glass is half full, not half empty, is a simple but effective tool," he says. "Instead of thinking about what you can't buy, think about the extra time and joy that you have to share with your friends and family."

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