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Beat the Holiday Blues

Tue, 11/21/2023 - 18:23


The holiday blues are a real thing. Medical and psychological experts say that external stresses and personal memories and thoughts affect large portions of the population. In the Northern Hemisphere, the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day come at the darkest time of the year, when the daylight hours are shortest. For many of us, this can be a time, too, of shortened tempers, sadness, or feeling like not getting out of bed. But there are ways to brighten up the day, if only a little.

During the leadup to Thanksgiving, it can be difficult not to become frantic. There are plans to make, travel to arrange, last-minute runs to the store for fresh cranberries. Gatherings themselves create tension; experts say we should try to identify specific triggers in advance (that annoying uncle!) and think about what steps might reduce their impacts. It is okay to keep stressful situations short or take bathroom breaks when family gets to be too much. An important reminder is to try to be aware of drinking alcohol or the effects of other substances and how either may impact you and the people around you. Paying attention when a fear of missing out crops up can help beat the blues; seek out someone to talk to, reach out to a friend.

Self-care at this time of the year is important. Slow down on the road. Leave a room or an outdoor space a little tidier than you found it. Have a glass of water — stay hydrated! Cross something off your to-do list, even if it is a little thing. Do a crossword puzzle. Give yourself an extra few minutes here and there. Try meditation or going to the beach. Look at the sky. Pace yourself. Be patient — you don’t know what that person in front of you on line at the I.G.A. is feeling. Consider acts of generosity. Volunteer a little of your time. Make a donation to a cause you care about. Sign up for a newsletter from someone who inspires you.

If you experience a mental health crisis, or have thoughts of suicide, go to an emergency room, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), or visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness site ( Resources are there, even in our darkest moments. Practice kindness, especially toward yourself.

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