NEWS | Dec. 19, 2023

How to Survive the Holidays

By Keith Garner

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for some of us, they can also be a source of stress and sadness. Maybe you’re going through a tough time, such as a loss of a loved one, a divorce, a health problem, or a financial crisis. Maybe you feel lonely, isolated, or overwhelmed by the expectations and demands of the season. Maybe you just don’t feel like celebrating at all.

Whatever the reason, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with the holiday blues, and there are ways to cope and find some comfort and peace. Here are some tips to help you survive the holidays when you’re feeling blue:

  • Prepare: Don’t let your emotions catch you off guard. Have a plan for how to deal with them, and who to reach out to if you need support. Keep the contact information of a trusted friend, a counselor, or a hotline handy, and don’t hesitate to call them if you feel hopeless or suicidal.
  • Socialize: Don’t isolate yourself. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to connect with others who care about you. Accept invitations to events that make you happy, or invite someone to join you for a movie, a meal, or a walk. You don’t have to pretend to be cheerful, but you don’t have to be alone either.
  • Lower your expectations: Don’t compare your holidays to the idealized images you see in the media. Forget about perfection and focus on what matters to you. You don’t have to do everything, buy everything, or please everyone. Be realistic and flexible and do what you can and enjoy.
  • Don’t anesthetize: Don’t use drugs or alcohol to numb your pain. They will only make you feel worse in the long run, and can lead to addiction, depression, or other health problems. Instead, find healthy ways to cope, such as meditation, yoga, music, or art.
  • Get up and move: Take care of your body as well as your mind. Eat well, drink water, and avoid junk food that can make you feel sluggish and depressed. Exercise regularly, as it can boost your mood and energy. Get some fresh air and sunlight, as they can also improve your mental health.
  • Shop online: If going to the mall or the store is too stressful or triggering for you, consider shopping online. You can avoid the crowds, the noise, and the pressure, and still find great deals and gifts. You can also save time and money and reduce your environmental impact.
  • Trimming: If decorating your home or tree brings back painful memories or emotions, don’t force yourself to do it. You can skip it this year or change it up with new ornaments or colors. You can also donate your old decorations to a charity or a friend and make room for new ones.
  • Set boundaries: Don’t let others guilt you into doing things you don’t want to do or can’t handle. Be honest and clear about your needs and limits and say no when you need to. You have the right to take care of yourself, and to choose how you spend your time and energy.
  • Avoid family conflict: If you know that your family gatherings are likely to be tense or unpleasant, prepare yourself for how to deal with them. Have a neutral response ready for any arguments or criticisms, such as “Let’s talk about that another time,” or “I can see how you would feel that way.” Then, excuse yourself and find a way to relax or distract yourself, such as going to the bathroom, helping in the kitchen, or playing with the kids.
  • Schedule some sleep: Don’t sacrifice your sleep for the sake of the holidays. Sleep is essential for your physical and mental health, and lack of it can worsen your mood and your immunity. Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, and avoid caffeine, alcohol, or screens before bed. If you have trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as breathing, reading, or listening to soothing music.
  • Accept: Don’t fight or deny your feelings. They are valid and normal, and they will pass. Accept the difficulty of this time of year, and any loss or change that you have experienced. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and don’t blame yourself for feeling blue. Remember that you are not alone, and that there is hope and help available.

For more information check: www.utng.mil or https://ut.ng.mil/RESOURCES/Military-Community-Family-Services/Resilience/

 

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