- Feelings of sadness or stress are not uncommon during the holidays.
- Accepting and sharing these harder emotions with your community can let people into your experience.
- It can be helpful to embrace ways to cope with the holiday blues, including practicing gratitude and spending time in nature.
Celebrating any holiday or special event away from family can trigger seasonal depression. If you’re struggling with feeling stressed or depressed, you are not alone. Social isolation and grieving the loss of a loved one are common reasons people get the “holiday blues.”
Angela Genzale, BSN, RNC, is a certified life coach and consultant and offers several tried-and-true strategies to overcome these feelings.
1. Acknowledge and Accept Your Feelings
Hiding your feelings from friends, family, and even yourself will not make them go away. It’s important to acknowledge that you feel down during the holidays and accept those feelings for what they are — feelings. Too often we are tempted to inflate or deflate the importance of how we feel, which only serves to make the situation worse.
Genzale recommends looking for ways to release those emotions. For example, writing about your feelings in a journal can help you to process them. Other ways include intentional body movement, music, dancing, or a creative outlet like painting, which can help you to acknowledge and release your emotions.
2. Be Transparent With Friends and Family
Being away from family during the holidays is stressful enough without miscommunication. There will be times when you cannot fulfill your traditional holiday obligations because of work or school. It’s important to be transparent about your schedule and ability to celebrate.
Your friends and family will likely understand your situation when you communicate it upfront. Being open and honest about your circumstances also reduces the need for apologies and explanations later.
3. Be Kind to Yourself
Nurses and nursing students spend much of their lives caring for the needs of others. During the holiday seasons, this can add extra stress to your life. It is important to care for your mental health as a nurse during the holidays. Genzale recommends that you are kind to yourself during the holidays and beyond. This helps reduce the potential for burnout and enables you to enjoy the time you do have for the holidays.
“Embrace some alone time to reconnect with yourself. Review your accomplishments. Dream about the future. Set goals. Read, relax, pamper yourself, practice breathwork, meditate,” she says.
4. Practice Gratitude
There are significant benefits to giving thanks and expressing gratitude. It is strongly associated with greater happiness, positive emotions, improved health, and greater resilience. Student nurses can express gratitude in several ways, including writing thank-you notes, praying, and meditating. Genzale recommends a gratitude journal.
“Write three things you are grateful for every day. This will help flood your system with positive energy and is beneficial for body, mind, and spirit,” she says.
5. Spend Time in Nature
There are many established and evidence-based benefits to spending time in nature. These benefits include a greater feeling of calmness; less irritability, anxiety, and depression; and a restored capacity to concentrate.
Researchers find it lowers blood pressure and reduces your feelings of isolation, even when you spend time in nature by yourself. Genzale says that being outside for just 10 minutes a day can lead to positive, restorative feelings.
Meet Our Contributor
Angela Genzale, BSN, RN
Angela Genzale is a certified life coach and consultant who is passionate about helping nurses overcome stress and anxiety at work and beyond so they can find personal success without sacrificing their soul.