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5 ways to survive the holidays when you’re just not feeling it

Not everyone is feeling holly and jolly this holiday season. Perhaps you’ve lost your job or are dealing with other financial pressures, are dealing with an illness or are looking after a sick loved one. Maybe you’ll be on your own for the holidays, or maybe you are (understandably) having a hard time coping with the general state of the world.It may be the most wonderful time of the year for some people, but when your own circumstances don’t match up with what you’re seeing around you, it can be difficult to stay upbeat.

Be kind to yourself

One thing that can help is to focus on little things that you like doing on your own terms. That can be as simple as putting some time aside to do an activity you enjoy, planning a delicious supper for yourself, or even taking a walk to get some fresh air and clear your head. Keeping yourself in a good frame of mind can make a big difference to how you feel.

Stay in the moment

Some people find that practising mindfulness improves their mood and helps them focus on one thing at a time, without worrying about everything else that’s on their plate. It can give a person a greater sense of purpose and may even help stave off mental and physical illness. It might even help if one of the things you’re dreading is another Christmas dinner with a side of awkward family conversations.

Focus on others

Helping others is another way to feel better. This time of year, community organizations are looking for donations of all kinds to help those who are struggling. If you’re able, consider donating toys, warm clothing and personal-care items to shelters for people experiencing homelessness.If you’re short on cash but long on time, Dr. Michelle Dow, a family physician in Meteghan, suggests volunteering as a way to contribute. “If you are feeling low, helping someone can be very beneficial,” she says. “This could be as simple as clearing an elderly person’s sidewalk, walking someone’s dog or baking cookies for a shelter.”

Take the pressure off

There’s a lot of pressure during the holidays to shop, decorate and bake, on top of spending time with family and friends. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed out trying to do it all.When you’re not feeling up for it, social situations with colleagues and family members can be draining. To help manage your stress at events, plan ahead. Think about who will be there and what conversations might trigger tension. It’s okay to take a break and leave the conversation – or the room.The consumer-driven side of the holidays can be stressful, too. Pressure to buy “the perfect gift” (spoiler: there’s no such thing!) can zap all joy from the season, particularly if you’re strapped for time and money. Consider scaling back on gift-giving – either by choosing names or giving only to the kids in the family, or by giving good-quality second-hand gifts.

Go cold turkey on social media

The perception that everyone else is having a great time over the holidays can make it even harder to be positive. Remember that the happy faces filling your socials are often not an accurate picture of what people are truly experiencing. What’s more, spending a lot of time online can make you feel even worse when you’re down.Take time away from your smart phone or computer—make plans to meet a friend, head outside to fill up the bird feeder or hunker down with that book you’ve been meaning to finish since September.Ultimately, surviving the holidays is not about being the happiest elf on the shelf. But there are plenty of things you can do that will help you respond more positively to the inevitable stress of the season.

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