It’s here, the “most wonderful time of the year,” according to holiday song. For many people, however, the winter holidays bring feelings of stress — mostly about finances, but also about gift buying, family gatherings, a too-full to-do list, and sticking to healthy habits throughout the season. Then there are those who suffer from Winter Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a syndrome characterized by feelings of depression and fatigue. What can you do to combat negative feelings during the holidays and enjoy the season? Here, five important tips for a joy-filled season:
1. Catch some rays: Whether you suffer from SAD or not, exposure to bright light, especially in the mornings, may positively impact your mood and alertness. Spending more time outdoors, and choosing indoor lighting capable of simulating properties of the sunlight, is also recommended for those with mild symptoms.
2. Keep moving: It’s more important than ever to exercise at this time of year, especially when trying to control stress. People who exercise are shown to experience less depression and anxiety.
3. Set a budget: Stick to a realistic spending limit (for everything from gifts to parties) that won’t put you into post-holiday debt, and you’ll avoid the financial stress so common at this time of year.
4. Be realistic — but stay positive: If you start the season by giving your holiday expectations a reality check, you’ll be ready when things don’t go perfectly. You can’t control everything – the weather, your mother-in-law’s opinions, an unexpected illness – but you can control your own attitude. Try to be optimistic, which can help you manage stress and even improve your health!
5. Do good: By being altruistic – whether that means giving financially or giving your time – you’re likely to feel happier, calmer, and more energized.