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Your brain on the holidays: Pry apart the significance of your favorite traditions and learn to cope with December stress.

Holiday Blues Busters: 7 Tips to Bring More Joy into Your Life

Leave sadness behind this holiday season

Although it's called the Season of Joy, this time of year can bring on a serious case of the holiday blues for many people. Please join me in welcoming guest blogger Dr. Andrea Corn, writer for Parklander Magazine, to share some tips on how to leave sadness behind this holiday season.

Holiday Blues Busters: 7 Tips to Bring More Joy into Your Life by Dr. Andrea Corn

If you find yourself dreading the upcoming holiday season and wanting to escape the flurry of social activities, family gatherings, and gift giving, you're not alone. At this time of year, many people catch that holiday blues bug. Why some adults experience this melancholy frame of mind that tempers holiday joy is as complicated as the many lives it affects. And while the holiday blues is of far less intensity and duration than a clinically diagnosable mood disorder such as seasonal affective disorder or major depressive disorder, that blah, down-in-the-dumps feeling is often hard to shake.

Sometimes, the downward spiral starts because reminiscing about the past brings about more sadness than joy for some people. Others become melancholy over the absence of cherished family traditions. Still others may feel isolated because they've relocated from loved ones or are alone as a result of divorce, illness, or other personal losses. In addition, recent economic conditions have resulted in additional restrictions for some families such that opening their homes, hearts, or wallets becomes a heavy and unwelcomed burden.

However, the holiday blues are not only defined by one's external reality. Frequently, this condition is related to what's happening inside the recesses of one's mind. Although it may be hard to believe that one's thinking could be the culprit, the truth is that if more time is spent brooding about the past, re-hashing old injustices, or worrying about the future, then it's easy to see how one's thoughts can perpetuate their own misery.

But you don't have to suffer. You can give yourself a wonderful gift--peace of mind. The key is that you must be receptive to changing your outlook. Yes, it takes mental discipline. However, with practice and perseverance, you can gain greater mental and emotional self-control.

If you're saying to yourself humbug as you read this, your negative thinking is stronger than you realize. It is scary to leave behind what's familiar. As much as you may hate how you're feeling, it is sometimes harder to risk trying something new. Changing deeply ingrained patterns and ways of thinking requires conscious effort, but it is possible to do.

Despite whatever circumstances exist in your life, and no matter your age, you have the potential to lift the dark clouds and dispel the blues that permeate your being. Be more aware of what's going on inside of you, rather than dismiss or ignore all those cues. Otherwise, they will remain pent up inside and continue to fester.

So during this holiday season, make a commitment to be your own best friend and accept yourself with less criticism and fewer unrealistic expectations. If you can serve as your own source of comfort and support, then you are well on your way to lifting the holiday blues.

To help you along, here are seven tips to bring more joy into your life:

1. Appreciate your uniqueness. Identify your personal assets, such as being a good problem solver or listener.

2. Give yourself a gift. It could be kindness, forgiveness, or perhaps patience.

3. Get busy. Activity is a wonderful way to forget your own problems and get out of your head. Consider volunteering.

4. Give from the heart. Not all gifts must be store bought. Share a favorite recipe or send an email sharing a memorable family story.

5. Appreciate your surroundings. Take a walk on the beach or in the park. Reconnect with nature.

6. Choose friends who make you laugh and feel good.

7. Fulfill a realistic dream.


Dr. Andrea Corn is a psychologist in Lighthouse Point, Florida. Dr. Corn received her Psy.D. from Nova Southeastern University after completing her internship at Miami Children's Hospital. Presently, Dr. Corn serves on the advisory board for A Safe Haven for Newborns. Her articles on parenting issues, youth sports, and child development have been published in South Florida Parenting Magazine, the Miami Herald, and the National Alliance of Youth Sports.

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