The most wonderful time of the year?

This week kicks off the holiday season, a time of lights, joy, love, festivities, and wonder, right?

For a lot of people, it’s a big fat WRONG.

This season can be one of the toughest seasons of the year for many. There’s the obvious seasonal changes that can make things difficult. Days are shorter and busier. The dark and cold and dreary weather makes it difficult to find the motivation to get outside and go and do. The lack of sunshine, vitamin D, and warmth can affect us all in different ways and for some it can even result in Seasonal Affective Disorder (read more about that here.)

For others its the stress and pressures of the season.  Holiday to-dos and shopping make schedules hectic and filled, leaving little time to rest.  The pressures of spending time with family and friends, attending parties and events, concerts and performances can be a lot to juggle and its often hard to decide what (or how) to say no.  Gift giving can bring on financial strain and stress.

For others the rituals of the holiday bring painful reminders of loss or bad memories.  Time spent with family can be less than joyous when there are unresolved issues or painful trials occurring.  What is meant to be a happy season often feels bittersweet or for others, just pain bitter.

So if you’re one of the many who are dreading the holiday season, what can be done this year to make it different?  Here’s a few simple things to try.

  1.  Take care of yourself.   You are all you have to give to everything and everyone this holiday season, so make yourself a priority.  Try to eat some healthy foods in between those treats,  go to bed on time instead of getting that one more thing done, make sure to stop and stretch in between the going.
  2.  Say no.  This goes along with number 1, but if you don’t want to or can’t do something, don’t do it.  You and those around you will benefit from you taking an honest look at what you can and can’t accomplish and your energy will be better spent on the things that you can and want to.
  3. Find one thing you enjoy.  Whether its driving around to look at lights, attending the Nutcracker, or building a fire, find one small thing that is just for you that celebrates the season.  Have one thing to look forward to and make it happen.
  4. Reach out.  Loneliness is pervasive during this season, and you are not alone in it.  Be the person who gathers others together instead of waiting for the invite.  If you are struggling, let someone know – a trusted friend, a loved one, a counselor.  No matter what it is that is difficult for you this holiday season, there is hope.

These are just a few small suggestions, I hope we can all find some small joy in this season even if we are going through difficult times.