As I described in How to Survive Holiday Blues (part 1), the Christmas holidays can be stressful times. Family matters and conflicts in relationships are just one factor of making the holidays a depressing experience.
The bad news: every person has some of the blues feelings during the holidays to some extent.
The good news: it is possible to change some things and enjoy the holidays.
Just like in medicine, there are preventive measures, short term symptomatic measures and long term measures you can take to get the best results.
Preventive measures to holiday blues
- Before the holidays, take care of your physical health more than any other time. Remember, a vacation is no fun if you are sick. Eat well, drink plenty of water and keep your sleeping routine
- During the year, put money aside for the Christmas holidays. There is no point stressing out a month before Christmas that you do not have money for what you wanted. Saving money slowly is much easier than living on credit.
- Set a budget for Christmas and tell your kids about this budget. Have a family meeting to discuss what you can do with the budget you have to enjoy your time. You will be surprised to discover that kids are very understanding once they know the circumstances. They will come up with creative ideas for celebrating without spending too much money.
- Think of the holiday in June, not in November.
- When there is not enough money, go for a cheap holiday. A camping holiday in nature costs less than a fast food dinner and the fun lasts a lot longer.
- Agree with your partner about a fair system to celebrate the holidays with his/her family. We had an agreement that we celebrate the evening with my family and the day at Gal’s family and it worked well for both families. Other years, we just alternated – one year with my family and one year with his. Get the stress out of the whole event by making it a technical decision with no hard feelings.
- Decide your Christmas companion long before the holidays. Ask friends about their plans and be confident to say, we would love to celebrate Christmas with you and stick to spending the holidays with people you like and happy to be with.
- Work out the holiday schedule in such a way that every family member is involved and taken into consideration. Write down exactly what you are doing every day of the holiday. Even if you leave a day blank for everyone to do their own things, it helps everyone deal with family expectations.
- To handle the overwhelmed, make lists and follow them. Start the lists 2-3 month before the holiday. Have a list of people you wish to send Christmas cards to with the addresses for the Christmas cards. Have a list of gift ideas and a list of gift requests. Have a list of food you would like to make for Christmas and a list of options for things to do and places to see. Remember: the opposite of forgetting is writing down!
- Prioritize your lists. Not everything has the same importance, so write next to every item of your list how important it is and go over your list in order of importance. Over time, priorities change, so you may have to update the lists, but the more you plan upfront, the easier it is to be ready for Christmas on time.
- Do not spend money you do not have. Using credit is renting money and costs an arm and a leg. Paying later is painful and is not worth it.
Short term symptomatic measures
- Accept the fact that the holiday season is a stressful time and allow yourself to have feelings about it. Just remind yourself it will not stay forever and you have the power to make things better. Whenever you feel sad or overwhelmed, ask yourself, “What can I do right now to feel better?” The answer will come.
- Do a random act of kindness for someone. It will lift your spirit.
- Plan something special and different for this period. Changing our routine gives us a refreshing feeling. Decide that once a year, you are doing something special to yourself and see what happens.
- Avoid alcohol. Yes, it is a holiday, but alcohol is a depressant, so why overload your system when it is overloaded already?
- Go over your happy list and make sure to experience happiness every day of the holidays.
- When things are tense for you, remember the others are tense too. Holidays are not a good time to fix relationships. It is just a short time and you do not have to say all that is your mind. Let go of hard feelings towards others. It will help you go through the holidays in peace and feel lighter. Leave the past where it belongs – in the past!
- Drink plenty of water to allow you to feel full and energetic. Remember that alcohol, coffee and tea do not count as fluids. The formula is 1liter for every 22kg of body weight – if you stick to this for a week, your life will change already.
- Look at food and remember this is not your last Christmas. There is plenty of food, so you do not have to eat it all. Use the same rules of eating as always. There is plenty of variety, but paying for it with 3 months of dieting again is not really worth it.
- Be creative with your celebration ideas. Make love letters for each other, play the gratitude game, make each other’s favorite food and sing each other’s favorite songs.
- Look for free activities that will bring a lot of joy and will not cost much. It will take the financial load off your shoulders.
- Have realistic expectations of yourself and others during the holidays.
Long term measures for holiday blues
The main idea here is to remember that holidays are magnifiers and that broken things cannot be fixed in one dinner or even 3 days of intense celebrations.
If you are sick and tired of feeling the same every year, work on your relationships – with yourself and others – throughout the year.
This blog contains many posts about personal growth, relationships and how to have a happy life. For a deep, personal assistance, consider life coaching.