How to Beat the Holiday Blues

By: MCG Health System
By: MCG Health System

Not everyone feels like saying "ho, ho, ho" when the holidays arrive. Stress and anxiety, also known as the "holiday blues" can sneak up on any of us.

These feelings can happen when we experience too many changes from our normal schedules, when time with family brings up tense emotions or sad memories, or even when we put too much pressure on ourselves to have a happy, perfect time during the holidays.

To help ward off the holiday blues, it's important to follow five basic principles:

  1. Don't bite off more than you can chew. It's OK to set limits, and pick and choose those things you want to do to celebrate the holidays your way. You don't have to go to every single holiday get-together, serve a lengthy 12-course dinner, or create your own greeting cards in order to make the holidays special.

  2. Set aside time for activities you normally enjoy. Make time for those things you do for yourself, such as exercise, a long bath, or a quiet hour of reading. They will help you stay relaxed and stress-free.

  3. Drink and eat in moderation. Overdoing it affects your physical and mental well-being.

  4. Set reasonable expectations. If your family enjoys a good fight every time they get together, if you're not the best cook in the world and if your beloved can't afford that fabulous diamond necklace you've been wanting, sometimes you have to just shrug your shoulders and accept it. Those things aren't going to change just because it's the holidays.

  5. Be positive. Just because the holidays aren't perfect doesn't mean you can't enjoy them just as much. Create your own traditions. And as you enjoy the holidays, focus on things you've done over the past year that you can celebrate.

For those already experiencing depression and anxiety, this time of year can be an even more difficult and vulnerable time. In addition to the above, it's important to:

  1. Keep to a regular schedule. In particular, make sure you get enough sleep, eat regular meals and enjoy normal activities.

  2. Make plans in advance. To help ward off loneliness, particularly if you are grieving the loss of a family member, make plans to do something different during the holidays, such as taking a trip or getting together with other friends, neighbors or co-workers.

  3. Follow doctor's recommendations. Don't miss medication or scheduled doctors' appointments. In particular, if you are going out of town, remember any necessary prescription refills or move up an appointment.

Most importantly, remember that the holidays are a time for community. If there is a need in your community, whether it's volunteering at a local homeless shelter or helping a friend in need of support, reach out. Include others in your holiday celebrations or do something nice for one of your neighbors. You might be surprised to find that helping others is one of the best ways to help get rid of those holiday blues.

MCG Health System is composed of three separate organizations -- MCG Health, Inc. and the clinical services offered by the faculty employees of the Medical College of Georgia and the members of the MCG Physicians Practice Group Foundation. The physicians of MCG Health System are community physicians, faculty employees of the Medical College of Georgia, or employees of the MCG Physicians Practice Group Foundation, not employees of MCG Health, Inc. MCG Health, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation operating the MCG Medical Center, MCG Children's Medical Center, the MCG Sports Medicine Center, MCG Ambulatory Care Center, the Georgia Radiation Therapy Center and related clinical facilities and services. MCG Health, Inc. was formed to support the research and education mission of the Medical College of Georgia and to build the economic growth of the CSRA, the state of Georgia and the Southeast by providing an environment for faculty employees of the Medical College of Georgia and the MCG Physicians Practice Group Foundation and community physicians to deliver the highest level of primary and specialty health care. For more information, please visit

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