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10 Tips For Dealing With Holiday Sadness

It's OK to feel down, and it's more than OK to ask for help if it gets to be too much.

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The holidays are supposed to be a time of great joy.

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A time of twinkling lights and familiar songs and wrapping yourself in the memories of celebrations past, while looking forward, with hope, to the new things to come.

But, for some, it's difficult.

For many people, the holidays can be a time of regret, of frustration, of loneliness, of darkness.

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It's difficult to look around a table laden with treats and not notice who isn't there, not notice what's gone wrong. It is difficult to not feel overwhelmed. Or profoundly, bone-achingly sad.

But there are things you can do to manage the sadness, and to keep expectations in perspective.

1. There is a lot of pressure to perform around the holidays, but it's alright to take a moment to be alone, to catch your breath.

MTV / Via snarksquad.com

It does not make you strange to need a moment away from the songs and the twinkling lights. It does not make you broken. It makes you a person.

2. Focus less on what was and what could have been. Focus on the now.

Via honestyforbreakfast.com

It's tempting to compare the present to the past, or to dwell on expectations that have been dashed. Try to turn your attention to the people who did show up, the beauty of ritual and tradition, the reality that we will never have this moment, this day, this week, this year again. This holiday.

3. And remember, too, that there is beauty in the still and the quiet.

It is possible to appreciate the dark days of winter, the beauty of clouds and snow and icicles clinging to pine needles. (...Or lights strung around a palm tree.)
midiman / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: midiman

It is possible to appreciate the dark days of winter, the beauty of clouds and snow and icicles clinging to pine needles. (...Or lights strung around a palm tree.)

4. Forgive.

RKO Radio Pictures / Via wifflegif.com

Sometimes grudges and old hurt can trickle into the present, especially when people are gathered together. Soften your heart against these.

5. It doesn't matter whether the tree is perfectly decorated. It doesn't matter that the sugar cookies didn't turn out quite right (again!), or that you forgot to buy a gift for that one uncle. (Doug?)

_marmota / Creative Commons / Via Flickr: chilledsalad

6. So give

yourself

a break.

7. And if you need a bit of help, ask for it.

8. ...And if you need *a lot* of help, ask for it.

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You don't have to go through this alone.

9. Remember, too, that there is no one way to be happy. It is relative, it can ebb and flow, and sometimes it needs to be cultivated and practiced.

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Maybe you express your joy differently than others around you. That's fine!

10. And if you need more tips and resources...

...The Mayo Clinic has wonderful advice to dealing with stress and depression over the holidays.

So here's to the holidays. And here's to you.

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