5 Simple Tips for Beating the Holiday Blues

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The holiday season is here, and the end of the year is near. Wintertime offers shorter days and colder nights. For many, this is an exciting time of coziness and cheer. However, many others silently battle the "holiday blues." The holiday blues can lead people to hibernate like a bear, avoiding engagement in seasonal festivities with family and friends. But time is precious, and life should be enjoyed as much as possible. Here are a few strategies to keep the holiday blues from creeping in and robbing you of the joys of each beautiful day:

Tip #1: Engage in self-care - treat yourself to warm, fuzzy delights. A nice pair of cozy new socks, a cup of your favorite tea, a rejuvenating meditation, or a full body massage can give you just the boost you need to feel your best. Remember to stick with what fits your budget, so your self-care pick-me-up can be optimally enjoyed! Laughter is a great, budget-friendly option; seek out friends who make you laugh or watch your favorite funny movie!

Tip #2: Weather permitting, walk outdoors for 30-60 minutes per day. Research consistently shows that walking is a natural mood booster! Bundle up so you can enjoy the fresh air, sunshine, and sounds of birds chirping. Breaking up your walk in 10-20 minutes segments throughout the day can also yield healthy benefits. If walking is not possible, find other ways to move your body; put on your favorite music and engage in chair dancing and stretching. Just be sure to keep moving!

Tip #3: Find creative ways to honor loved ones who have passed away. A common source of holiday blues is missing and mourning family members, friends, or pets who are no longer with us. It's best not to suppress feelings of loneliness or sadness. Instead, start a new tradition. Plan an annual event to honor the memory of your loved one with living family members and friends; this could be a brunch, a dinner, or a fun movie night. You may also choose to make visits to those who are shut-in or donate to your favorite charity in honor of your loved one's memory.

Tip #4: Remember to stay hydrated and get adequate sleep. Vacation time from work can disrupt sleep routines; spending time in heated homes can promote dehydration. Thirst and fatigue can worsen feelings of the blues. Remember to drink water often and enable "Mr. Sandman" to bring a restful night of sleep to refresh your energy and improve your mood.

Tip #5: Make someone you love a special gift. This is a time of shopping and gift-giving, but the process of making a homemade present can stimulate your creativity and brighten your spirit in ways unmatched by gifts that are purchased. You could make a batch of cookies, a winter stew, a homemade card, or a warm scarf. Make a gift that fits your talent and abilities.

Not sure if your holiday blues are more serious and in need of assessment by a healthcare provider, the American Psychological Association offers guidance to help you know the difference and get the help that you need, see http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/index.aspx.

About Dr. Cheryl Woods Giscombe

Dr. Cheryl Woods Giscombe is the Melissa and Harry LeVine Distinguished Scholar and Associate Professor of Quality of Life, Health Promotion and Wellness at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing. She is a health psychologist and a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Her research focuses on stress management to improve health among diverse populations. Dr. Giscombe has been recognized as a "Leader in the Field" by the American Psychological Association, and she has published widely and presented broadly to national and international audiences. She enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, Kessonga Giscombe and her two beautiful daughters.
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