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Beating the Wintertime Blues

Beating the Wintertime Blues

It's not a big newsflash that stress and depression can skyrocket during the holiday season. Seasonal stressors like trying to create a picture perfect holiday dinner, reliving memories of a loved one who has recently passed or celebrating your first New Year's as a singleton can all bring on bouts of sadness.

My personal holiday stress moment always comes the first time I run into a long lost friend or relative and I have to have that quintessential conversation. It's always an awkward dance of dredging up some lost memory to talk about and trying to make it sound like I'm leading the most interesting life on the planet all before saying, "Well, anyway, good seeing you. We should totally get coffee some time."

Ack! Just thinking about it is giving me a migraine.

Here are some tried and true tips for making it through the season:

1. 'Tis better to give than to receive. This phrase isn't just a bunch of hooey, and it doesn't just refer to gift baskets and jelly of the month subscriptions. Giving your time to help someone in need can be a huge mood enhancer. Find out if there's a local shelter or food pantry that could use a hand and help out.

2. Seek out your spiritual cousins. For whatever reason, sometimes you're just plain not in the mood to celebrate a holiday. If you seem to be hearing sleigh bells and smelling Yule logs at every turn, consider calling up some of your Jewish or Wiccan friends to get in on a little Hanukkah or solstice action (or vice versa.) Exploring a different faith can be very enlightening.

3. Keep your expectations in check. Everyone has dreamed of that magical kiss under the mistletoe or under the disco ball at midnight on New Year's Eve. But if you're hoping for fireworks and all you get are sparklers, you could get unduly disappointed. Instead of hoping for a winter fantasy, just look forward to a season of renewal.

4. Ask for help ahead of time. If you know that a particular day will be especially stressful, call in for backup. Whether its an extra counseling session, help around the kitchen or a babysitter, having an extra set of hands, eyeballs and ears can help tremendously.

Do you have any other tips for beating the holiday blues?

—Joy Hepp

Posted: 12/16/08

Exercise. Even if you can only squeeze in 10 minutes. It may sound trite, but a quick sweat session can significantly boost your mood. Not only do I feel better (and not so bad about holiday indulging) when I exercise, but I get so much more done, making a holiday to-do list not so intimidating.


Even if you're running from family engagement to family engagement, really try to slow down and savor the time you have at each place. Part of the reason the holidays are so stressful is that you only get to see these people once a year, so there's a lot to catch up on. Enjoy that little time you do have; it will help you stay calm, relaxed, and hopefully have more fun!


I try to pack a lot of fun things and down time for myself during the holidays, which can often get hijacked by other friend and family parties. I will schedule a massage, have friends over for a night of thai and funny movies, do some painting, just whatever strikes my fancy. I think it's important to indulge yourself every now and then to beat the holiday blues.

  • By LMAYO9
  • on 12/17/08 10:41 AM EST

I think in general, realizing that you can say "no" is important to remember. Okay, you can't exactly pass on going to Christmas dinner, but all the other holiday parties and engagements? Don't spread yourself too thing...take some "me" time...it doesn't always go over so well with people, but it's better than being miserable somewhere you don't want to be!

  • By aliciak
  • on 12/16/08 6:07 PM EST