Early today I was talking to a friend about tv shows and he was trying to convince me to start watching some new series. This year alone I caught up on Game of Thrones, Walking Dead and Scandal. I gently shared that the only thing I want to watch over the next several weeks is Christmas movies! That statement reminded me how close the holiday season is and I decided to write a post about the holidays to kick-off the season. Below are my recommendations on how to make the best out of the upcoming holiday season.

1. Spend time with family and friends
Many people who suffer from depression often isolate. This is a common symptom of depression and can be a part of the never ending cycle of depression. You don’t feel like being around people so you withdraw. You withdraw and feel isolated and alone. You feel isolated and alone and you withdraw. The pattern can go on and on until you do something different. Get out there and spend time with people who support you. Most people will spend time with their family on the actual holidays, but you can increase the time you spend with them doing others things. How do you plan on spending time with your friends and family during the holiday season?

2. Participate in holiday themed activities
There are a plethora of fun-filled activities to engage in during the holiday season. Why not plan a holiday gift exchange with your co-workers or circle of friends? Decorate your house and show off your Christmas cheer. Attend a movie in the park at this showing your favorite movie. A couple years ago, my sister and I watched Elf while sitting on a blanket in Downtown Fort Lauderdale and it was loads of fun. There are festivals, ice skating stands, Christmas parties, Menorah lights and Nutcracker plays to go to and that just scratches the surface for Christmas and Hanukah themed activities. What activity are you looking forward to doing this year?

3. Connect with people in creative ways
One of my favorite things about the month of December is receiving holiday cards. It’s a lot of fun to see people getting really creative with their cards. People dress-up in their funniest or most stylish outfits and take amazing pictures. Also, you can make it a point to schedule a trip to see some family members you haven’t seen in a couple of months. You can send gratuity cards for Thanksgiving as a way to let people know how much you appreciate them. What creative way do you plan on connecting to others?

4. Set boundaries, when needed
As previously outlined, there are activities galore for you to engage in during the holiday season. It’s important for you to connect with others and have fun while doing it; however it is equally important to set your boundaries. If you have two parties in one weekend and your parents want to take you to dinner, asses your priorities and act accordingly. You don’t have to make it to every Christmas dinner, and Hanukah dinner and New Year’s Eve party. You can connect with your family members without buying $100’s of dollars of gifts. Set a budget for your holiday spending and stick to it. What boundaries will you set for the upcoming weeks?

5. Live in the moment
The magic of holidays is about appreciating all that is afforded to you and the spirit of how it comes together. Let yourself enjoy yet another viewing of Home Alone. Let yourself enjoy building a snowman or going skiing. Take time throughout the holidays to really take in your life. Laugh! Sing! Party! Decorate! Live in the moment. What are you most looking forward to this year?

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Amanda Patterson, LMHC, CAP decided to become a therapist while attending Nova Southeastern University. She saw the need to help people achieve the life they wanted to live, while creating a life of her own. She completed her master’s in Mental Health Counseling and started a career in the juvenile justice arena. Since then, she has started a private practice in Pembroke Pines Florida, specializing in depression, anxiety relationship issues, and substance abuse. Amanda is a believer in holistic treatment and she practices veganism, meditation and yoga in her life. Find out more about her practice here. For a free 15-minute consultation, call or text Amanda at 954-258-8845 or email her at amanda@amandapattersonlmhc.com.