In theory, we all like the idea of winter and the holidays. There is family to see, good food to enjoy, some time off to help us forget about responsibilities.

In reality, things are not always that great.

As soon as the days start getting darker and colder, we are much less motivated to do things. When the sun sets, we prefer to stay at home, cozy up with the TV and a less than healthy meal choice, and overall: we are not as perky and joyous as we would like to be.

There is also the added stress of visiting family, buying gifts, and everything that we don’t quite enjoy about the holidays.

Here is how you can avoid the holiday blues this winter, even making the most of the bad weather and holiday crowds.

Keep moving

We’re all a bit tempted to stop working out in the winter. After all, no one will see how we look under all of those layers of clothes, and summer is far away enough to give us a chance to get back in shape.

In truth, this combination of no exercise and too much calorie-dense food is part of the reason we start feeling blue.

This year, try doing the exact opposite and stick to your training regime even during the coldest months. True, you will have to adapt your routine if you’re used to exercising outdoors, but this might be the perfect time to try something new: bodyweight home workouts, some yoga to ease digestion, a dance workout, and so on. 

Don’t ban yourself anything

Another mistake we tend to make is trying to limit our intake of the foods we consider bad. We get all hung up on eating an extra piece of cake or drinking an extra glass of wine because we’ve convinced ourselves that it’s overly indulgent.

Instead of looking at food as the enemy (yes, even that extra piece of salted caramel pie), allow yourself to eat something you may normally stay away from. If you keep forbidding yourself certain foods, you will only crave them more, and nothing you eat once in a while can be that bad for you to begin with.

Make sure you don’t overeat every single day of the week, but a bit of extra enjoyment over the holidays won’t be that harmful.

Focus on others

Remember that wintertime and the holidays can be difficult for others as well, especially the elderly and those who can’t move around much when the cold weather sets in. Do your best to help them out and prevent them from feeling isolated during this time of year.

This will be an excellent way to feel better yourself, as doing good is an amazing serotonin booster, and it will take your mind off your own blues.

Try to get your friends and family together, without adding to the stress of the season. It doesn’t have to be anything especially festive: just a simple night in or out with the ones you care about, without any pressure of gifts, dressing up, or being merry, can do wonders for your overall mood.

Establish new traditions

The holidays put a lot of pressure on us because we believe we’re supposed to feel merry and joyful all the time, and that is simply not possible. We may be going through a difficult time, or simply don’t feel all that well, and none of that will pause and go away just because it’s Christmas.

Instead of trying to be something you’re not, try to embrace how you do feel, and work on making this time of year the best you can. Whatever it is you feel like doing, allow yourself to do it.

If you don’t want to see any Christmas movies, don’t. If you don’t feel like a holiday party, you can stay at home. Make new kinds of meals instead of the traditional ones you’re used to, watch a new series that has nothing to do with the holidays. All in all, focus on yourself in the present, pamper yourself and ignore what the calendar is telling you.

Final thoughts

The holiday blues are a very real menace, so don’t be afraid to admit you’re not feeling the Christmas spirit – there is nothing wrong with that. Try to keep the pressure off by allowing yourself to be wherever you feel you need to be, keep moving and eating as healthy as you can, and the holidays will soon blow over.

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