Surviving the Season

The winter holidays promise a heightened morale from family bonding, but the reality often results in the exact opposite of a mood boost.

Each year, the winter blues evolve: if last year was bad, this year is probably worse.

A majority of people won’t acquire a significant other to hold through the harsh winter months, receive a generous holiday bonus, or lose the pounds they intended to shed after Thanksgiving.

Clearly, this doesn’t make for a great jumping off point for the remainder of the season.

Seasonal depression may be caused by a variety of factors in winter, including the decline in daylight hours and a swift decrease in temperature, and even the anxiety that results from the pressure of participating in family functions.

Joy is truly a part of the season, so don’t let stress and sorrow spoil your winter. Follow these simple tips for a happy holiday:

Lower Your Expectations
Similar to the process of online dating, try completely lowering all expectations. Family functions are chaotic and stressful, especially when attendees expect a level of perfection that will never be accomplished.

Understand that your racist uncle isn’t going to interact politely with anyone, prepare for temper tantrums by younger cousins, and accept that everyone will drink too much wine. You may not obtain a partner to kiss at midnight, and someone will inevitably forget to make gravy for the Thanksgiving turkey.

Take the holidays with a grain of salt, and let the stress float away along with your expectations. Of course, if the holidays fail to end in disaster, they will exceed your minute expectations and ultimately improve your outlook.

Just Eat It
Everyone gains weight in the winter, with or without a holiday binge.

If winter weight gain is causing the blues, just understand that an increase in weight assists in regulating body temperature during colder months. Denying yourself specific foods during the holiday will only cause your mood to take a turn for the worse, and encourage binging in moments of weakness.

Sure, that extra five pounds may cause some grief in the long run, but nobody survives a hectic family meal on salad and lemon water. Stuffing your face with mashed potatoes will spare you from a lively discussion with your racist uncle.

DIY Gifts
The large sums of money spent on holiday gifts for friends and relatives are not a required aspect of the celebrations. Spend a few days imagining more creative, personal presents.

For example, buy a set of blank greeting cards, in which to write heartfelt messages. Gift these to family members, and explain that your budget was tight this year.

Homemade gifts are always more personal and intimate than store bought, and your relatives will appreciate that effort was made even without a high budget. Meanwhile, you will protect your wallet from the spending that always contributes to post-holiday guilt.

To Do, Or Not To Do
Begin writing a list of simple accomplishments you’re hoping to achieve during the holidays, avoiding all mention of fitness, romance, and career goals. The idea involves, not a raise in expectation, but rather a small set of tasks that ensures effortless completion.

Simple lists may include trying out a new recipe, holding a snowball fight, viewing the best home light shows in the neighborhood, and performing both parts of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as a passionate solo as you drink cider while wearing reindeer footsie pajamas.

Small goals require no effort to complete; meanwhile, the resulting feelings of accomplishment will contribute to an overall spike in mood.

Senior Skip Day
Even though the holidays are touted as a special time to spend with family, the relatives are often the primary reason that this season takes such a toll on us.

If the holidays are simply more effort than they’re worth, ditch them completely.

Gather some friends together for a night of barhopping, throw a popcorn and movie night, or even just take the paid time off as an excuse to go on a tropical vacation.

You’ll be criticized by older relatives and acquaintances for your disregard of tradition, but you’ll be too busy sipping piña coladas to care.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Ryan Harvey.

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