How can I improve my sad mood during the holidays?

Brooke Randolph
Marriage & Family Therapy
These tips may seem basic, but they can help you avoid having a Blue Christmas and hold steady on your goals through the end of the year:
  • Keep moving. Winter weather may have changed your workout plans, but don't let it cause you to be more sedentary. Get creative. Take new classes at the gym or join a gym. Try winter running; I was shocked how much I enjoy it. Dance while cleaning and baking. Try an at-home workout like Authentic Yoga or P90X.
  • Don't forget the water. Imbibing at holiday parties can lead to dehydration, but so can the temptation to reach for warm drinks due to lower temperatures. Make sure you are still ingesting enough water every day. It will also help with dry skin, hair, and chapped lips if you stay properly hydrated.
  • Say no. Whether it is another Secret Santa exchange, a cookie exchange party, or a holiday gathering, if it is going to cause distress, just say no. An important part of stress management is setting your own schedule and avoiding unnecessary stress. This time of year generally brings several additional tasks and events and even positive things are stressors. One person can only handle so much. If temptation will be high or you will feel uncomfortable, give yourself permission not to attend an event. If the environment is not emotionally healthy, this therapist is giving you permission not to participate in a gathering -- even family gatherings.
  • Be sentimental. Giving thanks is a wonderful and easy way to improve your own mood. Christmas cards give us a great outlet for grateful and sentimental messages and can cost very little. Tell those that matter to you just how much they do. You will feel better in the process, and you will be strengthening your most meaningful relationships.
  • Be selective. In addition to setting your own schedule and saying no to unnecessary stress, you want to say yes to those things that do bring joy. If making Christmas candy reminds you of your grandmother in a positive way, do it (and give it as gifts). If you love watching It's A Wonderful Life, buy it for yourself and watch it as much as possible. If you have a favorite ornament, display it with prominence. Adding beauty and those things that matter to us, enriching each of our senses, can improve our general sense of well being.
Jim Sleeper
Addiction Medicine
Pay attention to what you are telling yourself about the moment or the past. Our thoughts create our feelings. When I feel sadness, I focus on what I am telling myself about a situation, and usually find a thought pattern that is filled with messages to  myself that can create sadness.
If you are having a rough time as the holidays approach, here are some tips to keep your holiday season joyful:

- put yourself first
- don't over-schedule your time
- keep a limit on spending
- avoid triggers that set old traumas into motion
- focus on what you can control
- choose to do things you want to do, not have to do
- keep expectations realistic
- don't be afraid to delegate or ask for what you need
- stay in the present and look toward the future
- use your senses to find beauty and peace in small moments around you.

Continue Learning about Healthy Holidays

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.