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How to Sidestep Depression During the Holidays

By Christine Louise Hohlbaum

The holidays represent a stressful time for most people. Expectations are high, commitments are many, and time seems more scarce than ever. With a few helpful tips and some planning, many of these issues can be avoided.

1.) Start early. As the adage ďThe early bird catches the wormĒ admits, getting a headstart on your holiday preparations can save you a lot of headache later on. Gather your family members and quiz them on their favorite foods. Compile a list of your favorite meals, then select the ones that combine the best. Who ever said you canít have spaghetti for a holiday meal? Do what works for yourselves and your family. Reaching a compromise and an agreement early on takes the stress out of last-minute meal planning.

2.) Shop ahead. If you have a mile-long list of people to gift this year, consider buying in bulk. Forget buying an individual gift for all your childís preschool pals. Go to a warehouse which sells things in large quantities and earmark those items for larger groups.

3.) Remember the reason for the season. Coming from a Christian background, I remind my children that Christmas is not about Santa Claus alone, but about celebrating Jesusís birthday. We give and receive gifts as a reminder of his importance in our lives. Managing expectations even with little children is important. It will help avoid an embarrassing outburst on Christmas morning in front of Aunt Sarah when your child fails to get his favorite toy.

4.) Make a mailing list. Use your Excel computer application, if you have one, to manage your addresses. Have your children help dig through old Christmas cards to find addresses of long lost friends and relatives. Allow your children to cut up the old Christmas cards to make new ones of their own.

5.) Use an advent calendar. Advent is a neat time of year in Germany. It is comprised of the last four Sundays before Christmas. We use an advent calendar with the 25 days up to Christmas to help our children deal with the anxiety of waiting for the big day. You can make your own by wrapping 25 little treats to be opened each day. Or get a regular calendar and place a special sticker on each day as it begins.

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6.) Get exercise. For those in the Northern Hemisphere, light is a precious commodity. Be sure to get out during your lunch break for a bit of sun exposure. Even on cloudy days, it can revive your spirit and give you the oxygen you require. Shovel snow if it applies to you.

7.) Get enough sleep. Have you noticed that when the days are shorter your need for sleep increases? It is a natural response. In a way, our bodies shut down. If I didnít know any better, I would say we require hibernation just like bears do. Honoring your need for rest is as important as ever.

8.) Eat vitamin-enriched food. If the sun is weaker in your area, your daily dose of vitamins needs to come from your food intake. Take vitamins and drink fruit tea and lemon to stave off the common cold.

9.) Communicate with your partner. Oftentimes admitting you feel blue is all you need to reach acceptance that things arenít always perfect.

10.)Celebrate the winter solstice. In our family, we have a huge bonfire to symbolize the coming of light. Mark off the days on your calendar to encourage yourself that a new beginning is right around the corner. Gather with friends to honor this age-old rite of passage into the season of renewal.

May your holiday season be stress-free and love-filled!

© Christine Louise Hohlbaum
Christine Louise Hohlbaum, parenting humorist and author of the world-renowned book "Diary of a Mother", inspires mothers everywhere through her powerful stories. She is a frequent guest on NPR and has appeared as an expert in Boston Globe magazine, Parenting, Pregnancy, Parents, and more. Christine is available to speak at your event whether in Europe or North America.


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