Is Your Diet Affecting Your Mood?

paper snow flakes

The holidays are coming, everyone’s getting excited… but you just don’t get it. For most people, December is a time for anticipation and happiness, but for others it can be a period of anxiety, stress, family drama, and chaos. There’s very little room for celebration or joy, and sometimes if you can’t get into the groove of the holidays, the whole thing can be a big hassle.

The most important thing to realize is that it’s okay to feel this way. If you’re having trouble getting into the holiday spirit, you can rest in the knowledge that a lot of people are in the same boat as you. Ironically, one of the best ways to stop feeling so bad about it is to let go of your anxiety about feeling bad. Pressuring yourself to feel less stressed is very counter-productive, and only serves to add one more bit of stress to the top of the pile. Accept that it’s fine to be feeling how you’re feeling, and don’t fight it so much. It’s quite normal to feel anxiety during such a hectic time of year, and berating yourself for your emotions (or lack thereof) isn’t helping matters.

On the other hand, don’t go too far and end up putting yourself in positions where feeling awful is almost a foregone conclusion. Watching nostalgic movies and hitting the eggnog may seem like a good way to immerse yourself in a holiday mood, but it’s much more likely to leave you feeling worse than you did before. Of course you should make time to relax, but try putting on a CD of happy Christmas music, or putting some decorations up around your house. There are many fun activities that can help you chill out while keeping you from getting too moody or introspective.

Spending time with friends in December can be a nice change from the more obligatory gatherings. Sure, being with family is great, but it can also be nerve-wracking in heavy doses, especially if your family is very large or if some of the people in it don’t get along so easily. Separating feuding cousins or having to listen to Grandma’s complaints can get tiring after a while, no matter how much you love your family, so it’s good sometimes to have a break and hang out with people who aren’t related to you in any way.

If you have the opposite problem, no family nearby to spend the holidays with, don’t let it get you down — there are plenty of ways to keep yourself feeling upbeat. For example, one Christmas I found myself away from home, and in an effort to avoid becoming depressed about it, I volunteered to help with meal service at the local homeless shelter. It was a rewarding experience for everyone involved, we had a lovely Christmas dinner with some of the less fortunate people in the community, and I never once felt sad or lonely about my situation. Of course, it would have been nice to be with my family, but it just wasn’t possible, and I think I made the very best of the situation.

Stress and negative feelings at the end of the year can be difficult, but they don’t have to be debilitating. Making time to relax and do the things you enjoy is essential to keeping a balance with all the hassle of having to get everything ready. When the holidays finally arrive, remind yourself that you have as much right to a good time as anyone else, and relax and enjoy the occasion to the best of your ability.

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