What to do if you have the holiday blues? You hopefully don’t know what I’m talking about, but maybe you do… you know, that low grade feeling of sadness and not-feeling-in-the-least-bit-merry, despite nothing overt going on in your life. I think this affects many of us during this stressful holiday season. Or you may have a very heavy heart due to the recent death of a loved one, and your sadness and sense of loss is only magnified by the holiday jingles playing constantly everywhere. You may be widowed and alone for the holidays, with a pang in your heart every time you see a Christmas tree. Perhaps your relationship is on the rocks or you are estranged from your family, and memories of previous happy holidays this time of year only serve to make you more down. You may have suffered a recent divorce and don’t have the kids this holiday. There are many reasons to have the holiday blues, but what to do?

My advice is deceptively simple: find ways to get through it. The bottom line is that the holidays are a hard time for many. Do a bit of planning so that you are intentional about this tough time.

Find ways to cope in the moment as you can; in fact, make yourself a plan right now for the tough times which you know may be just ahead. Who can you call when things are particularly bad? List at least three people if you can. Write on your plan other things you can do to feel better, to remind you in that moment. Perhaps it’s to eat chocolate, or read, or take a bath. Or maybe it’s to just curl up in bed for a while. Give yourself permission to do these things. At the same time, recognize when your behavior might be self-sabotaging, and reach out for help from professionals. The National Crisis Line, (800) 273-8255, is staffed 24/7 – please put their number on your plan as a backup for those times you might be in crisis and need support.

I remember getting through the first Christmas after my husband died with teeth gritted and heart clenched. Everything seemed to remind me of my loss. I didn’t really know what to do with my sadness, it was so hard being so sad… I remember I drank a lot of tea with sugar. I called my close friend and vented. I saw my therapist. I journaled. I spent Christmas with my parents in the midwest for the first time in decades. I moved forward somehow. I coped somehow. And I got through.

If you’re reading this right now, and you’re suffering the holiday blues, my hope is that you will be intentional about finding ways to cope and just get through. Maybe I’ve given you some ideas, hopefully you have some of your own. Please do see a therapist for extra support – mine made such a difference to me.

And if you aren’t feeling blue, I urge you to reach out to someone that is. Invite them out for coffee or a meal. Send a care package through the mail. Call them up and chat. These little acts of kindness can make a big difference – I know from my own experience.

I wish you peace as you navigate this potentially difficult time. This, too, shall pass.