10 Sure Cures for the Holiday Blues

Feeling down this season? You’re not alone. Heed these 10 tips to stay balanced.

holiday blues

1. Set boundaries.

With all the holiday hype, it’s easy to over-commit. “Set realistic expectations and goals,” says Debra Wentz, president and CEO of the New Jersey Association of Mental Health and Addiction Agencies. “You shouldn’t try to do everything or be at everything.” Remember, it’s okay to say no.

2. Exercise.

While you don’t need to go crazy with last-minute fitness, try to get some exercise. Regular exercise offers tons of benefits, including improving mood and increasing energy levels. If you’re in need of some inspiration, give one of these outside-the-box workouts a try.

3. Experience the outdoors.

Just because it’s winter does not mean you should stay cooped up indoors. Research shows that getting outside can boost your mood. An added benefit: “New Jersey is one of the most beautiful places,” says psychologist Rosalind Dorlen, a member of the Department of Psychiatry at Overlook Hospital and owner of a private practice in Summit. She suggests spending five to 10 minutes outside a day.

4. Enjoy unique holiday activities.

The holiday season means tons of themed activities and events happening around you. It’s a great chance to get in the spirit and make new memories. Go see a holiday show, visit nearby neighborhoods decorated in lights or even hop on the train to New York to enjoy some of the city’s Christmas cheer.

5. Connect with others.

“While people think that they’re connecting all the time on social media, actually people are more isolated than ever,” Wentz says. Don’t forget the true purpose of the holidays: connecting with others. And put down that phone!

6. Plan ahead.

If you tend to get stressed out by all the events and never-ending to-do lists, put a plan in place for peace of mind, Dorlen says. This includes setting a spending budget, shopping early and mapping out what holiday celebrations you’ll be attending.

7. Volunteer.

Bring joy to others—and yourself—by giving back. You can start small, by donating coats and collecting canned goods in your office, or go bigger by volunteering in a soup kitchen. “Nothing helps us more,” Dorlen says, “than doing something for others. It’s good medicine.”

8. Build in “me” time.

Don’t forget about yourself during the holidays. “It’s important to create time for yourself,” Wentz says. Even setting aside 15 minutes for a favorite activity can make a difference.

9. Maintain your routine.

If you’re typically all about consistency, stick to it during the holidays, Wentz says. Keeping things as “normal” as possible can help your mood.

10. Eat well.

A healthy diet can help with a healthy mindset. There are lots of treats and goodies during the holidays, but a few days shouldn’t dictate how you eat for the rest of the year. “Take care of yourself by doing the things your mother always told you to do,” Dorlen says. That includes eating your veggies.

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