Feeling sad this holiday season? This might be why


(NewsNation) — ‘Tis the season to be jolly — but for some, the holiday season is actually filled with stress and sadness.

A recent American Psychiatric Association poll shows 31% of adults across the United States say they’re expecting to be more stressed during the holidays this year than last.

Balancing family obligations with trying to wrap everything up before the end of the year at work can add anxiety to people’s lives, Dr. Judy Ho, a licensed clinical forensic neuropsychologist, told “Morning in America.” All the festivities can also bring up old issues or feelings of loss and grief that aren’t resolved, she added.

“Even though it’s supposed to be this joyous time, there’s pressure of trying to do it all,” Ho said. “People feel like they’re supposed to be generous with their time and their money.”

Ho has some tips to beat the “holiday blues” every year.

Stick to a Routine

“Around the holidays, I think we’re oftentimes just a little bit more likely to get more lax about our routines,” Ho said. This can mean sleeping in more, not exercising, or indulging with food. But people’s brains actually find routines calming, meaning it’s all the more important to have a schedule when there’s a lot going on. Ho suggests doing an easy, five-minute morning routine on busy days, such as reading part of an inspirational book when first waking up.

Move Your Body

“Move your body on the days when you have more time,” Ho said. “Maybe it’s an exercise routine, but it could just be a couple of simple stretches in bed on busy days.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the emotional benefits of physical activity on brain health can happen right after a session of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. These include “improved thinking or cognition for children 6 to 13 years of age and reduced short-term feelings of anxiety for adults,” per the CDC.

Practice Gratitude

Making time to think about what you’re grateful for can add some happiness into one’s day.

“You just say out loud what you’re grateful for that day, or you can tell somebody next to you or even write it down in a journal to make it more concrete,” Ho said.

Stick to a Budget

To cut down on money woes, the Mayo Clinic recommends that before you do any gift and food shopping, budget out how much you can afford to spend — then stick to that plan.

“Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts,” the Mayo Clinic writes on its website. Instead, it says, you can: donate to a charity in someone’s name; give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.

Reach Out

Those feeling lonely or isolated can seek out social or religious communities in a time of need, the Mayo Clinic says. It points out that many organizations have online and in-person options for support and companionship.

“If you’re feeling stress during the holidays, it also may help to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns,” the Mayo Clinic said. “Try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat.”

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