The holiday season can be a particularly hard time of year for a lot of people. Many people have end of year work deadlines towering over them. Some people feel debilitated by the financial strain of holiday travel or gift-giving. It’s not uncommon for people to feel isolated and lonely when they have to spend a holiday away from family due to work obligations, illness, or a lack of finances. There are also many people experiencing the heartbreak of having to move through a season that is supposed to be so full of joy without a loved one that has passed on. No matter what the cause of your wintertime blues is, there are ways that you can cope to make this season a little brighter.
*It is important to note that Depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder are very real experiences that many people deal with. If you think you might be suffering with either of these, please reach out for help. If you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call the Suicide Helpline at 1-800-273-8255 or text "Voice" to 20121. There is hope and help.*
The first step to combating the Holiday blues is to pinpoint where the feeling stems from. Sometimes the feeling is clearly linked to a trigger, but sometimes the root cause(s) can be unclear. Take some time alone to dive into those feelings so you can tackle the problem(s) head-on.
If you are finding yourself overwhelmed with a work deadline, take a deep breath. People often deal with feeling overwhelmed with avoidance and procrastination. This can make a tough situation worse. Remind yourself that sometimes self-care means tackling a task now before the situation gets more pressing. Your future self with thank you.
Making a game plan to tackle deadlines can be powerful. Break up your work into smaller, more manageable goals. You can map out the smaller goals and give them their own deadlines to keep you on track for reaching the big deadline. Focus on one goal at a time. This will help you feel more in control and feel less overwhelmed. As you mark off these smaller goals, you will be able to see your progress more clearly.
This is a particularly tricky struggle to deal with, especially this time of the year. In no way do we want to trivialize anyone’s situation or feelings. Understand that there are various degrees of financial strain, so these tips might not be beneficial for everyone.
- When possible, remove unnecessary financial burdens off your plate. Looking over your bank statement for the last couple of months can be a great way to see where you can cut corners. Many people have monthly subscriptions that they have forgotten about and aren’t even using. Canceling unnecessary entertainment subscriptions during this season can help lighten the burden in some situations. Other people might need to keep one of their entertainment subscriptions, because that is how they escape from their stress, wind down, or bond as a family.
- Eating out can quickly add up over the course of a month. Meal planning and preparing food ahead of time can help prevent the need to purchase fast food and help save many people money. There are tons of resources that be found online with a simple google search to help support people who choose to make this change.
- Try to let go of social obligations. It can feel extremely embarrassing to tell family or friends that for financial reasons, you won’t be exchanging gifts with them, traveling to visit, or hosting the big holiday dinner this year. Pushing through the discomfort and removing the financial burden is worth it. Family and friends who love you unconditionally and want what is best for you will understand. Most people have had financial struggles of their own at one point in time and can relate.
- Avoid comparison. This time of year, many people brag about their plans, post their holiday decorations, and show off their gifts. It is okay to hide people on social media if their posts bring up negative feelings for you. This time of the year is perfect for turning off social media. Not only does that reduce the opportunity for comparison, but it also opens up time to be present with those around you and provides space to be grateful for what you already have.
Unfortunately, not all financial stress can be removed through the previous tips, but there are resources that can help.
Toys for Tots is one of the most well-known programs to help provide a little holiday cheer in the form of gifts to minors. You can find their sign up information here.
Local nonprofits are available in most places and may provide Christmas assistance. Assistance can vary on location but can come in the form of gifts, food, and occasionally financial aid.
Many communities have churches and other organizations that have special funds and programs to help for this time of year specifically. There are many programs to help provide food, clothing, and gifts for those that need it. There are even some energy assistance programs that help pay heating bills, and oftentimes, gas or electric companies will allow you to arrange your monthly bill to be paid on an approximate average so that your bills don’t spike unreasonably during the coldest and hottest parts of the year.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Even if a church or charitable organization can’t help you, they often can point you in the direction of someone or someplace that can. Communities really pull together to help where they can this time of year. For example, many communities in cold climates have set up walls or fences of coats where people who need them can walk up and pick up coats for their families without having to discuss their situation with anyone.
As with every struggle, remember that things can and do change. A lot can happen between this Christmas and next if you keep working hard to find better opportunities or situations.
Away From Family
It is more common than ever before for people to live far away from their hometowns and the families that raised them. Traveling is expensive and not everyone can take the time off work to travel to see family. Missing out on celebrations with family and friends can be a heavy weight on anyone’s heart. There are many different ways to cope with being away from loved ones during times of celebration.
- If possible, start planning, saving, and looking forward to being able to visit at a more feasible time.
- Even if you can’t be with a loved one face to face, there are still ways to meaningfully connect. Schedule calls or times to video chat if you need to. Sending texts or short videos back and forth can also help provide connection when schedules don’t line up.
- Another way to cope with being away from loved ones this time of year is to find other people in the same position. Reaching out and finding people who are in the same situation can be a great way to make new friends and help combat loneliness.
Dealing With Grief or Loss
Coping with loss could be its own blog post. Grief is a strange and unpredictable experience. During the holidays, time is often not a factor in how someone handles it. The holidays can stir up memories and emotions that haven’t been fresh for a long time.
- Let yourself experience your emotions. Don’t minimize or try to repress those emotions. They are valid.
- Reach out to others who loved that person too. Sharing your feelings and memories can be very powerful.
- When necessary, recognize your need to talk to a counselor to help you navigate through your grief.
Don’t Forget Self Care
This time of year can be so full of stress and so busy that often self-care gets put on the back burner. This is a big mistake. When you don’t take time to take care of yourself, you are much more likely to burnout. Before burnout occurs, slow down for a minute to see what needs you need to take care of.
Don’t stop working out now. If working out has been something you have given up in the hustle and bustle of the season, take time to reevaluate your schedule. Physical activity has been proven to be a great way to reduce tension and stress (1).
Exercise isn’t the only way to take care of your body. Make sure you are still feeding your body the things it needs to perform. This includes drinking water and taking any necessary vitamins or supplements. If you aren’t already, look into taking a vitamin D supplement. Without as much access to sunlight, it is very common for people to suffer from a vitamin D deficiency.
Take time to relax. For many people, relaxing means turning on the tv and zoning out. For other people, relaxing means crawling into a warm bath with a good book. Both of these can be forms of self-care. These definitely have a time and place, but there are many more forms of relaxation that people overlook. If what you are doing currently isn’t enough, don’t be afraid to try something new.
For example, learning how to breathe deeply takes practice, but deep breathing has been studied and shown to have many immediate and long term effects on the body and mind (2). Practicing deep breathing can help reduce stress and anxiety in the moment. It can also improve sleep, which has many of its own benefits.
Winter can naturally mess with people’s sleep schedules. Add stress to the situation and it can become a vicious cycle. Figure out what you need to help you get your sleep schedule back on track (3). Deep breathing, yoga, or meditating before bed can be powerful. Journaling and/or making a to-do list for the next day can help clear the mind. We also have a powerful Sleep Cream that can be beneficial for many people struggling to sleep. It is formulated with magnesium to encourage better sleep and help regulate the body’s stress response (4). Sleep Cream also includes a blend of oils that have been known to promote restful sleep, reduce stress, and provide a calming, relaxing effect.
A Little Boost
Sometimes, we can’t take the time for self-care exactly when we need it, but we still need something to help us through the day. Other times, we might find it hard to wind down from all the stress to enjoy self-care. For times like these, a little Hope Cream can make a huge difference. With 9 uplifting essential oils meant to energize the mind, soothe feelings of anxiety, and help you create a more calming and cheerful mental atmosphere it is the perfect gift for yourself or someone you care about this holiday season.