Take These Proactive Steps to Get Rid of the Holiday Blues

Despite this season’s reputation as a magical time of year full of love and happiness, the holidays can be tough for a lot of people. Sometimes it becomes clear why Christmas and other holidays at the end of the year are psychologically exhausting – for example, if you are grieving the loss of a loved one .

Other times, the reason for your holiday sadness isn’t so obvious: you just know you’re feeling down, while the rest of your family and friends seem to be having fun and in good spirits. And while you can’t just snap your fingers and feel jolly, there are steps you can take to get rid of the holiday blues ahead of time. Here’s what you need to know.

Define your triggers

Whether you’re dealing with holiday anxiety or sadness, it helps to identify which people or scenarios tend to cause a shift in your mental well-being.

If you can’t point to certain triggers, the next time you feel down, pay attention to what you’re experiencing at that moment: Are you with a certain person or in a certain place? Is it a song or a fragrance? Do you see how other people interact in relationships that you are not currently in?

Knowing what makes you sad this time of year is the first step to dealing with it or avoiding it as much as possible.

Set clear boundaries

According to Dr. Mark Kaplan , a psychiatrist at York Hospital in Maine, you should take the time to emotionally prepare for family and friends during the holiday season. This includes setting and then communicating boundaries.

“Be yourself and focus on having a good time,” Kaplan said in a recent interview with Foster’s Daily Democrat . ‚ÄúDecide how long you will be there, who you will interact with. Even with people you hope to avoid, you may think of one fond memory of that person instead of seeing “that jerk”. Think of boundaries.”

Focus on presence, not perfection

There’s something about the holidays that can make people feel like no matter what they do or how hard they try, it’s never enough. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, make the decision to be mentally present while spending time with loved ones and give yourself permission to resist the pressure to be perfect.

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