Finding Joy: 15 tips to combat holiday blues

Although it is generally accepted that the holiday season begins once Thanksgiving is over, the arrival of December 1st makes it official. We have waited 11 long months for this "most wonderful time of the year" to arrive, and on the first of the month it hits you rather like a freight train that there is a little over three weeks to enjoy it. There will be shopping and wrapping; end-of-year deadlines and office parties; school finals, assignments and parties; entertaining and decorating; more parties and family dinners; and endless other activities that herald this time of year. If the anticipation of parties, family visits and shopping brings on feelings of anxiety and depression rather than ruddy-faced holiday cheer, you are not alone.

Wait, what?!?

Feeling down or downright depressed around the holidays is a phenomenon that some experts call the holiday blues. And more people experience this phenomenon than you may think. It may be due to unrealistic expectations of a perfect holiday, anticipation of family drama, loss of a loved one or the longer, colder days of winter. Whatever the reason, here are 15 tips to help you find the joy in your holiday season (for the full WebMD article, click here).

Finding the Joy: Emotions

1. Keep your expectations modest. Take the holidays as they come, and don't try to live up to some sort of Pottery Barn-type ideal.

2. Lean on your support system. Meet up with some friends or call a sibling to keep yourself grounded.

3. Volunteer to help people who have less than you. Gratitude is a great way to combat depression!

Finding the Joy: Family

4. Head off problems. Try to anticipate people or situations that trigger holiday stress and avoid them or make them work for you.

5. Don't worry about things beyond your control. You may not be able to control things, but you can control your reaction to them.

6. Try something different and make new family traditions that make the holiday season meaningful for your family.

Finding the Joy: Parties

7. Don't overbook. Pace yourself or you will end up feeling overwhelmed.

8. Don't stay longer than you want. Your host will understand if you have other engagements and will appreciate that you stopped in to say hello.

Finding the Joy: Shopping

9. Create a holiday budget ahead of time and stick to it. Then you can avoid feeling out of control as holiday costs accumulate.

10. Shop online to avoid the stress of long lines and chaos in the parking lot.

11. Repeat after me: "There is no perfect gift." Gift cards will work in a pinch.

Finding the Joy: Self-Care

12. Stay on your schedule. Don't skimp on sleep and make sure to fit exercise into your day, every day.

13. Eat sensibly, but don't beat yourself up if you indulge now and then.

14. Don't rely on holiday spirits (or other substances); alcohol itself is a depressant.

15. And last but not least, be kind to yourself. It is the season of love and joy, after all.

Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful holiday season and a very happy 2017!

Dr. Preiss-Farzanegan