17 Winter Rituals to Help Beat Holiday Depression
We all know the holiday season is a stressful time and can often lead to depression. Between the shorter days, colder weather, shopping for presents, cooking, and entertaining, it can be overwhelming. Throw COVID 19 into the mix and we are all majorly stressed out right now. The thought that we might not be able to spend the holidays with our families this year because we want to be safe and prevent the spread of COVID, is just too much to bear and pretty depressing.
And for a large majority of the world, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is just another layer to add. This is a real disorder that can add to depression during the holiday season. Symptoms of SAD can include: depression, low energy, trouble sleeping, weight gain, and more.
But we can take control of the Holidays and the Winter months by taking a few healthy steps to prevent stress and depression. I want to share a few of my favorite Winter Rituals that can help combat depression and stress during this season. I hope that with these suggestions, a little planning, and some positive thinking, you can create some real peace and joy this holiday season.
Winter Wellness Rituals to Find Peach & Joy
- Acknowledge Your Feelings – it is ok to not be ok, especially during this crazy year. Don’t push down or hide your feelings as that never helps. However, don’t let your feelings overwhelm you either. Instead express your feelings to friends and family in a healthy way and ask for assistance if needed.
- Reach Out – look for online support groups, virtual counselors, or even reach out to friends and family you can’t see in real life via zoom.
- Be Realistic – We can’t expect this year to look the same as all the years previous. Be realistic in what you can and can not do during this time. If you are feeling unsafe to travel to see family, then schedule a virtual get together or even create a fun and uplifting video to send to them to open on Christmas Day as part of your gift to them.
- Stick to Healthy Habits – get enough sleep, exercise, make time for deep breathing or meditation, avoid excess alcohol, avoid excess sugars, take daily walks outside, and eat more healthy and nourishing foods. Don’t be tempted by all the holiday sweets and treats! It is okay to indulge here and there, but don’t over do it. Everything in moderation, am I right?
- Create New Traditions – a lot of us have family traditions around the holidays and we might not be able to participate in those this year. Create new ones! Stay true to yourself and create new traditions that fit your lifestyle at the moment. Christmas was always built around traditions I had with ex-husband and his family. This year I’m creating new ones that are all for myself like a nice breakfast, doing some yoga, and spending time with friends.
- Get some Vitamin D – this is super helpful for my friends with Seasonal Affective Disorder! Studies have linked Vitamin D deficiencies to depression, migraines, and more. So get outside, take a walk in the sun, eat Vitamin D rich foods like tuna, salmon, eggs, and mushrooms. Or make sure to take a daily Vitamin D supplement.
- Light Therapy – when it is cold and gray out it can be hard to get out of bed. Those with SAD especially find this difficult. Check out light therapy – there are special lamps you can get for your home that mimic the sun’s rays. Some of these can even be used as alarm clocks, gradually turning on at the scheduled time to mimic the sun rising and peeking in through your window.
- Movement Matters – make sure to move your body in whatever way you like – bootcamp, yoga, running, etc. Just move! It can be hard to get up for your workouts when its dark and cold out. Who wants to get out of a warm and comfy bed, am I right? Set everything you need for your workouts the night before, so you can roll out of bed and start moving. Moving your body is a great way to beat the winter blues.
- Nourish Your Body – it can be tempting to indulge in holiday treats and other heavy foods that are loaded with excess sugar and carbs. Instead find comforting foods that nourish the body instead; like a warm and hearty stew loaded with veggies and healthy proteins. Also, think of warming foods and herbs that you can eat like root vegetables, ginger, and turmeric.
- Journal – journal whatever feelings are coming up for you. Getting these out of your head and onto paper can help you clear your mind. Also include some gratitude expression in your journaling. Having an attitude of gratitude opens up your life to receive more abundance and good things.
- Burn a List of Things to Release – right down on a piece of paper all the things that are no longer serving you or that you wish to let go of. Take some time in mediation to think about how great your life will be when you release these things. Then burn the paper and never look back.
- Care for Your Skin – the colder weather often means the heat is on, which can dry out skin. Start to add more nourishing and hydrating products into your skincare and body care routine. Try dry brushing for your body and incorporate more oils and rich balms to hydrate skin.
- Hot Beverages – in the winter I tend to drink more hot beverages. Start your day with a little hot water with lemon and fresh ginger. Drink yummy and soothing hot teas throughout the day to keep your warm and help boost immunity.
- Light a Candle – pick a scent that is uplifting and reminiscent of the season. The simple act of lighting a candle can be a big boost to your mood. It can lighten up and brighten your space and the scent can trigger feel good responses in your brain.
- Diffuse Joy – just as lighting a candle can be a great way to brighten up your home space, you can add a diffuser. Pick some uplifting or calming scents like lavender or eucalyptus and diffuse them throughout your home.
- Create a Joy List – just as expressing gratitude for what you have can help to enliven your spirits, focusing on creating joy is a huge boost to our mood. Write down a list of all the small things that bring you joy. When you’re feeling down, pick something off of your list and do that one thing. It can be even something as simple as watching your favorite movie or taking relaxing bath with bath bombs or bubble bath. The point is to focus on creating joy for yourself instead of dwelling in stress and anxiety.
- Meditate – take some time whenever you can to stop and breathe. Sit in silence and just notice your breath. Be grateful for the breath within you. Throughout the day focus on being more mindful as you go about your daily tasks. You can find joy and peace in even the most mundane tasks if you take the time to be mindful.
I hope these tips help you a little bit during this crazy holiday season to stop, breath and reboot. Pick one to do every day so you can find peace and help spread joy at this time of the year.