Some of the Weirder Stress Symptoms

Some of the Weirder Stress Symptoms

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine. Actually, open them, you are reading. Now picture someone who is stressed out. You likely see the same stereotypical stressed-out person we all see. However, stress manifests itself in many ways. Some stress symptoms are far from the stereotype you envisioned.

Conditions You Never Knew Were Stress Symptoms  

Your Skin Itches

If you are constantly itching your skin (despite your expensive moisturizer), this could be a stress symptom. A sudden return of eczema may also indicate stress.

Rashes are a relatively common stress symptom. The reason? Stress compromises your immune system. Therefore, your skin is more likely to be affected by irritants and infections, which a fully healthy immune system controls.

Your Nails Change

Stress hormones can turn healthy nails brittle or even cause raised ridges. The reason? Stressed people fidget and press their fingertips down on their nail edges. If you do this “nervous tick” long enough, the result may be ridges.

You Become Forgetful

When you’re stressed out, the part of your brain responsible for short term memory is affected by the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol flooding your brain may make it more difficult to remember.

Another role stress plays in memory is difficulty in focusing. When stressed your mind is concerned about other things. Trying to focus on work when you are under financial strain, or have poor health, can be futile.

You Start to Have Vision Problems

Eyes can feel the effects of stress. Stress symptoms can be as minor as eye or eyelid twitching, or as major as reduced peripheral vision.

You Have Nose Bleeds

Stress does not directly cause a nosebleed. But what stress may do is increase your blood pressure to the point where the tiny blood vessels in the nose rupture.

You Are Gassy

Excessive gas is a stressor in and of itself. It is also a symptom of stress. Why do we get gassy when stressed? We likely eat and drink too quickly, in addition to having an already nervous stomach.

There Is Nothing Weird About Stress

Chronic stress is a killer. A twitching eye or a little bit of gas may not scare you, but long-term stress symptoms affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Being able to recognize weird stress symptoms, as well as the stereotypical stress symptoms (high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes) can give you a jump on managing them. 




Ways to Help You Find Meaning at Work

Ways to Help You Find Meaning at Work

Work takes up a great deal of our lives. The average American will spend about 30 percent of his/her life working. Now of course there are different types of jobs that people believe bring a level of inherent meaning, but even a dream job has times of stress, boredom, and paperwork. And some jobs considered dull can be found to have meaning if one has a certain frame of mind. Regardless of your job, there are things to keep in mind which add perspective and allow you to find meaning at work.

Four Ways to Find Meaning at Work

Remember Why You Work

If you are struggling to find meaning at work, perhaps you need to evaluate exactly why you work. Once you do this, your attitude may change for the better. Obviously, a salary is important, but there are likely other reasons. To discover those other reasons, answer these questions:

  1. Do you want to be an expert in your field?
  2. Do you seek success?
  3. Do you seek a daily challenge?
  4. Do you enjoy helping others?
  5. Do you crave a daily of weekly sense of achievement?
  6. Do you need to create something?
  7. Do you need to get out of bed every day?
  8. Do you seek the camaraderie of others?

How many of these did you answer “yes” to? If you answered “no” across the board, you may want to determine which job might be better suited to you.

Look Beyond Work to Find Meaning at Work

Sometimes work is considered as a means to an end. Perhaps your passions lie well outside the realm of work. You can find meaning at work by understanding that without the salary, benefits, and structure  your job provides, you could not afford fly-fishing supplies, or plane tickets to the streams of Colorado. Even smaller hobbies can provide meaning if you devote time to them each day after work, e.g. painting or gardening.

Keep an Eye to the Future

When you are struggling at a job, it is difficult at times to understand that the job won’t last forever. And it certainly won’t if you decide to invest in your future. Take on extra tasks at work to develop new skills. Perhaps take a chance on that management position you were offered. Gain knowledge through your local community college. Dust off your resume and start to develop areas which can help you find another job. Your current job can be a stepping stone to one which enables you to find meaningful work.

Be Mindful of Meaningful Work Moments

If you are fully present at work, you will discover that regardless of what you do, you have moments throughout the day which you enjoy. Whether these take the form of helping a co-worker, or creating the best widget to date, awareness may surprise you when you add up the number of positive experiences.

It’s All Attitude

You are in charge of your thoughts. You are never trapped or victimized, at least not long term. It’s all about how you view your circumstances. These circumstances (your job) allow you to do what you love outside of work, notice beneficial things during work, and can allow you to prepare for the next step in your life. You infuse meaning, and you can find meaning at work through a positive attitude.




Five Simple Financial Moves to Make in 2017

Five Simple Financial Moves to Make in 2017

The New Year is a great time to make a clean break with the past, and adopt a couple of positive behaviors. Here are five simple, low-impact financial moves. Everyone can make at least one, and it will pay immediate dividends.

Little Effort, Great Returns: Financial Moves for 2017

Cancel One Subscription

Look at your expenses for a month. Which of those expenses could easily be cut without much sacrifice? Here are a few options:

  • When was the last time you went to the gym? Is your gym the hottest place in town? Is it a status symbol? Can you run outside instead of running on the treadmill? Unless you go to the gym every day, you can cut this membership very easily.
  • How many magazine subscriptions do you have? How about the newspaper? Do you read each one? Can you read it for free on the internet?
  • When is the last time you watched Netflix? HBO, Showtime?
  • What about that sports channel?

If cancelling one subscription is easy now, then think how easy it will be to cancel something else in the coming months.

Transfer a High-Interest Credit Card to a Low-Interest Credit Card

Are you carrying a balance on a high interest credit card? Do you know what you are paying in interest? Look at your credit card statements and determine which one you pay the most interest on. You can transfer that balance to another card with a lower interest rate, or transfer the balance to a new credit card with zero percent APR for a certain time period.

This simple transfer can save hundreds of dollars and help you pay off debt quicker.Contribute the Max to Your 401(k)

Prevailing wisdom tells us to contribute 15 percent of  pre-tax salary to  retirement savings. This can seem like a lot, but if done incrementally, the impact is minimized. Especially if your employer matches contributions, which makes it easier to hit the 15 percent goal. In 2017 and 2018, get to the 15 percent threshold by upping your 401(k) each time your employer provides the opportunity to modify it. A little pain today provides ample benefit in the future.

Build an Emergency Fund

Life will continue to get in the way. Unforeseen expenses happen to everybody for the entirety of life. What you want to do is get ahead of these expenses. In other words, instead of charging, or worse yet, liquidating investments to pay for unanticipated expenses, pay for them with an emergency fund. This year and next, take a reasonable amount of money out of each paycheck and save it in an account. An emergency fund should be three to six months of your take home pay.

Review Your Credit Report

If you haven’t reviewed your credit report in a while, you should. It’s free to do so. If you plan  to make a major purchase in the near future, it’s certainly important to review your score. Take note of your accounts’ reports. You have the right to correct anything you see as erroneous. It’s also smart to look for fraud.

Financial Moves Get Easier With Practice

Financial stability and health can be achieved by starting small. These are small financial moves, and each successive move will become easier and more beneficial. Make 2017 the year you start to get your financial house in order.




The Millennial Financial Advice Roundup

The Millennial Financial Advice Roundup

It’s a new year, but Millennial financial advice for 2016 still holds true. Here we summarize some of the best Millennial financial advice offered in case you missed it. We want you to attain financial security, happiness, and the ability to direct your life in ways you see fit.

The word Millennial is tossed around as if it has some pre-determined meaning from on high. And if you are a Millennial, it probably irks you. So who is this generation exactly?

A Millennial and Stereotypes of the Millennial Generation

The ‘typical’ Millennial:

  • Works for a venture-backed start-up.
  • Likely to irritate fellow commuters by gliding all over the sidewalk on a hover board.
  • Has challenges keeping a man bun securely in place.
  • Sometimes stares at own reflection captured on Snapchat.
  • Wonders how to integrate a handlebar mustache and a sleeve tattoo into his aesthetic.
  • Expresses thoughts by using gifs or emojis.
  • Starts a podcast about favorite podcasts.

THIS IS NOT A MILLENNIAL! (Is it??)

This is a stereotype, but this blog takes a deeper look at individuals who make up this generation.

How Millennials Can Build Their Credit Scores

Millennials have an average credit score of 625, which is the lowest of any generation, and almost 50 points below the national average.

This doesn’t necessarily mean millennials don’t pay their bills, but rather they need a bit of Millennial financial advice to take the steps needed to build a credit record. This blog will show you how. Credit can affect student loans, mortgages, apartment rentals, insurance, employment, credit cards, and more.

Three Financial Concepts You Didn’t Learn in School

As we look back at our schooling, there are all types of lessons we didn’t learn, especially financial lessons.

This blog looks at three “unlearned” lessons. The first, explained below, is the power of compound interest.

At 19 years of age, Jenny invested $2,000 every year for eight years. She chose investments that returned 12 percent interest. At 26, she stopped investing. She invested a total of $16,000.

At 27 years of age, Tom invested $2,000 every year until he turned 65. He chose investments that also returned 12 percent interest. Tom, however, invested 23 more years than Jenny. He invested a total of $78,000 over 39 years.

When they both turned 65, who had the better investment?

Tom’s total was $1,532,166. Jenny’s total was $2,288,996. She invested less money but started earlier.

Remarkable!!

Besides compound interest, this blog also contains equally compelling Millennial financial advice about credit scores and retirement.

Five Reasons Why Millennials Should Care About Disability Insurance

Ah, to be a millennial. So young, so invincible … until you’re not. You may have health insurance, which will protect you against high hospital fees, but if you lose your ability to work and earn an income, how are you going to eat and pay rent when you can’t work for a period of time?

Learn more about this vital insurance here.

Four Things You Need to Know About Money in Your 30s

If you spent your 20’s racking up debt, your approach to money in your 30’s will likely focus on a debt reduction strategy.

But how?

With the snowball plan.

It’s better to pay off your smallest debts first, according to research from Northwestern University. This approach is often advocated by financial advisers as the “snowball plan.”

Learn more here.

The above blogs are great, but the best of all is our Millennial Financial Advice eBook.

It is a compendium of terrific Millennial financial advice. Happy reading and have a prosperous 2017!




How to Maintain Your New Year’s Resolutions

How to Maintain Your New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is the perfect time to break from the past and start fresh. Thus, the creation of New Year’s resolutions. And how long do those resolutions last? One study determined that less than half of all people keep their New Year’s resolutions beyond six months; only 75 percent maintain them through the first week! So if you are serious about your New Year’s resolutions, here are some ways you can nurture and maintain these changes in behavior.

Top Five New Year’s Resolutions for 2016

Before we get to how to keep your resolutions, it would be interesting to see if your resolution(s) is in the top five of last year’s resolutions.

  • Staying fit                                      36 percent
  • Losing weight                                32 percent
  • Spending less, saving more          29 percent
  • Enjoying life to the fullest              27 percent
  • Spending more time with family    20 percent

Anyone surprised by the top five resolutions? They are predictable and straight-forward.

Five Considerations to Help Maintain your New Year’s Resolutions

Avoid Extremes

Willpower is an amazing attribute. Don’t treat it as an infinite resource, but as a fallible one that benefits from flexibility. To help your willpower, try not to make extreme, 100 percent resolutions, “I will never eat chocolate again.” Instead, create a resolution such as, “I will only eat chocolate on my birthday and on Easter.”

Write Your Resolutions Down

It has been shown in studies that writing down one’s goals increases the odds of achieving them. Once you write down your New Year’s resolutions, post them in a place where you will see them every day. Additionally, share your resolutions with loved ones. They can be a source of encouragement when you are about to backslide.

Keep a Record of Progress

Once you set a resolution, create a progress chart so you can actively check off days or tasks. This subtle reinforcement can boost confidence and motivation.

 No One is Responsible for You but You

There is something very empowering when you accept the fact that your actions and achievements are the result of your choices. Understanding  you have control over your life provides the willpower needed for change. Those who blame others, or circumstances, fall prey to the belief that change is beyond them. You can achieve your resolution because you and only you are at the helm.

Bite-Sized Chunks

As humans, significant goals over long periods of time become hard to envision completing. Therefore, every goal should be divided into smaller segments. These segments can be envisioned, and therefore, more likely attained. Then record your progress, mark off your success, and prepare for the next “chunk”.

Never Stop “Resolutioning”

How many of you have met someone that successfully quit smoking after multiple attempts? This person’s failure to quit each time was disappointing, but for some reason he or she insisted on trying again. The same goes for resolutions. Regardless of how many times you have failed, it does not mean you should give up entirely. Success is around the corner. Use the tips above to help. Your health and happiness will always be worth another shot.

Image credit: Unsplash




Six Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Disability Insurance

Six Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Disability Insurance

Educating yourself about the pros and cons of insurance can be quite challenging. Even after you do your homework, decide you want to purchase disability insurance, you must still choose a provider and a policy, and maybe go through underwriting. It is no wonder that many people do not follow through and stay uninsured, under-insured, or mis-insured. The following questions are some of the most frequently asked about disability insurance. Hopefully, these concise answers will help prepare you for road to disability insurance. Remember, nothing that comes too easy is ever worth having.

Disability Insurance FAQs  

Do I really need disability insurance?

Disability insurance covers a portion of your income should poor health or injury threaten your ability to earn an income.

Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age. This statistic runs counter to the belief that many have that disability is extremely rare.

If you or your loved ones depend on your ability to provide an income to pay for life expenses, then you need disability insurance. Those who are working for fun, more power to you.

What is short-term disability insurance?

Short-term disability insurance covers individuals who cannot work for a short period of time due to illness or injury. Even though there are some short-term policies which provide coverage for up to two years, most coverage only lasts between three-to-six months.

What is long-term disability insurance?

Long-term disability insurance provides coverage for a disability lasting six months or longer. Some long-term policies provide coverage up to retirement age.

Long-term disability insurance typically costs more than short-term disability insurance, which is expected for a policy that protects you for a longer period. Another disadvantage is long-term policies usually include a three-to-six month (or longer) waiting period before the policy holder begins receiving benefits. For this waiting period, people can tap into an emergency savings fund, however, statistics show that very few people have a generous emergency fund. Also, those who have a short-term policy and a long-term policy can use the funds from short-term policy to get them through this time of waiting.

Does Disability Insurance Cover all Disabilities? 

Disabilities that are not covered depend largely on the specific policy. In general, many policies do not include the following disabilities:

  • A disability resulting from participation in a riot.
  • Injuries which are intentional and a result of self-infliction.
  • War or any act of war.
  • Any period of disability during incarceration.
  • A disability resulting from a crime in which the individual has been convicted.
  • Pre-existing conditions.
  • For short-term disability: occupational sickness or injury.

Can I work part-time and still collect benefits?

Your insurance contract will specify if you can receive benefits while working part-time. Many policies allow you to work, but take the amount you earn and subtract it from your benefit. If your policy has a lifetime benefit cap, working part-time may extend the life of your benefits.

How much disability insurance should I get?

Insurance companies typically do not sell disability insurance policies which replace all of your income. But, they do sell policies which can replace up to 70 percent of your income. If your employer does not offer a disability plan with 70 percent coverage, you may want to look for supplemental insurance coverage to offset the difference.

One major benefit of owning your policy is you pay the premiums. When you pay premiums yourself, you are paying with after-tax dollars. Therefore, any benefits will likely be tax-free. Tax-free benefits paying 70 percent of your income comes close to being 100 percent of your take-home pay. If your employer pays the premiums and the cost is not included in your taxable income, then benefits will likely be subject to taxation.

A good rule of thumb is 70 percent coverage, but, as with all insurance needs, it depends on your circumstances and what you can afford. Regardless, seek out a qualified advisor if you need help crunching the numbers.

Disability Insurance Is a Good Idea

Just think how devastating the loss of income would be for you and your dependents. Then think how much worse it would be to lose the ability to earn an income.

This is a circumstance you can avoid with proper planning and an action plan.




Six Disadvantages of Using Email

Six Disadvantages of Using Email

Using email has numerous advantages. Email is environmentally friendly, extremely inexpensive, and quick, just to name a few. Overall, there are more advantages to using email than disadvantages. However, there are a few disadvantages to using email which practitioners should be aware of, especially in the workplace. Here is a list of several prominent disadvantages.

Potential Pitfalls Using Email

The sheer number of emails which employees send and receive can be overwhelming. To write, read, and respond to a potential deluge of emails consumes a large amount of office time and personal time (personal mobile devices).

Some companies understand the potential information overload that can result when using email, so they develop policies restricting email use during after-work hours and days off.

Spam and Viruses

No one likes spam. But even with a good filter, it’s only a matter of time before your inbox fills with electronic garbage. Where spam is bad, virus-laden emails are worse. Email is one of the main methods used to spread malware and viruses which can infect your company’s computer systems.

Unintended Consequences of Auto-fill

Auto-fill can save time. However, it can also create huge headaches, especially the “TO: field” auto-fill. When your boss’s name is Phyllis and your buddy’s name is Phil, make certain you type in more than “Ph” in the “TO: field.” Otherwise, CEO Phyllis may receive an inappropriate email you intended to go to FRIEND Phil.

Email Courage

You can hide behind your words when using email. It’s much easier to say something sarcastic or aggressive when using email than to say something directly to another person’s face. On the other side of the equation, when we receive an email that is less than pleasing, it is all too easy to hit reply and send an in-kind message back to the sender. And once you hit send, it’s sent. A quick and hostile response is now part of the company record.

Using Email Inhibits Relationship-Building

Do you work in an office where you receive emails from someone that sits 50 feet from you? Do you return the favor and respond to that same person through email? How often could you just get up from your chair and walk over and deliver a verbal message? Bonding with co-workers requires a certain amount of face-to-face time. Using email is going to do very little to build sustainable friendships and camaraderie.

Lost in Translation

Email can be a poor communication medium because it does not include non-verbal communication cues such as gestures and facial expressions. And you cannot hear tone of voice. We know that meaning relies on tone and non-verbal cues at least as much as it relies on the spoken word. Therefore, the risk of miscommunication is higher when using email rather than speaking face-to-face, or even by phone. And no, emoji’s do not compensate enough for tone and intent (said the Baby Boomer to the Millennial).

So Take a Second…

There is great upside to using email, but before you send an email, take a second and make certain that what you are about to send avoids the above pitfalls. If you accidentally fall prey to one, you will likely not repeat the mistake. Especially if humiliation or job loss occurs.




Why We Worry and How to Reduce It

Why We Worry and How to Reduce It

Why We Worry: An Evolutionary Perspective 

James Clear shares his fascinating take on why we worry in his piece, The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It.

Clear contends that the human brain evolved while we lived in an Immediate Return Environment. In other words, human lives were focused on the immediate benefits of living in the present moment during the bulk of our brain’s evolution.

  • When we were hungry, we ate.
  • If it stormed, we took shelter.
  • When danger presented itself, we fought or fled.

Nearly every decision we made provided an immediate benefit.

Today, we live in a Delayed Return Environment, which runs counter to the environment  during which we greatly evolved.

In modern society, many of the things we do today (e.g. – save for retirement, eat well, purchase disability insurance), will reward us in the future.

Unfortunately, our brain was not designed to handle the repercussions of a delayed return. The result? Potential feelings of worry, stress, and anxiety. One of the greatest reasons behind why we worry is the constant uncertainty of the future.

Four Misdirected Beliefs That Justify Why We Worry  

It is can be difficult to live with uncertainty. It often creates a situation where we repeat potential “what if’s?” We try to control uncontrollable situations.

If I worry about enough things, I will never be surprised. 

Some worry to avert disappointment through anticipation. It is impossible to worry about everything, or to avoid disappointment. Is the suffering that occurs through this belief worth it?

It will be safer if I continue to worry.  

Some believe that the process of worrying somehow decreases the chance of a dreaded outcome. As if worrying about the plane crashing can somehow increase the odds of a safe flight.

Worrying helps me solve problems.

Some believe worrying generates solutions to problems. But, heightened worry typically disrupts problem solving capabilities.

I am motivated by worry.  

Some believe that worry reduces complacency and encourages productiveness. There is a difference between unproductive worry, and problem-solving to reduce the level of worrying.

Five Strategies That Can Reduce Worry

Along with eliminating the self-fulfilling beliefs listed above, here are some strategies you can take to reduce your worry. They strike at the very heart of why we worry.

Plan

A contingency plan. You may worry about things which are outside of your control. For example, the promotion you asked for. The uncertainty is driving you batty. One way to cope is by writing down a plan for what happens if you get it, and what happens if you don’t. Either way, you’ll have a course of action in response to the outcome. This may help alleviate the uncertainty you’re feeling.

Rehearse

Will you be doing any public speaking in the future? Is a difficult discussion with a family member or friend in your future? If you rehearse what you’re going to say, you’ll eventually begin to feel comfortable with the presentation, or the topic of discussion.

Focus on Physical Health

Eating properly, sleeping well, and exercising can all help our body cope with stress, and also help control worry.

Reveal the True Source of Worry

Sometimes worrying about trivial matters is a distraction from the true source of worry. Are you truly worried about the broken dishwasher? Or is that worry substituting for your true worry, a parent’s illness? Tracing the root cause of worry allows you to take the necessary steps to address it.

Contextualize

Generalized anxiety can result from worrying about many small things. If you take a breather and evaluate the chances of each of these small worries all occurring, you can reduce their intensity.

Divide and Address Your Worries

If you break down and list all of the things which worry you, you can take small steps to address each one. This way you’ll slowly scale, and conquer, that mountain of worry.

You Have the Ability to Reduce Worry

Excessive worrying leads to stress and anxiety. Chronic stress and anxiety can have devastating effects on your body, and your psychological well-being. Now that we know a little more about why we worry, methods used to help reduce worry are no longer a mystery. You just need to get to the point where you can say ‘enough is enough’, and head down the path of stress and worry reduction.




Don’t Be That Guy! Prepare Yourself for the Holiday Office Party

Don't Be That Guy! Prepare Yourself for the Holiday Office Party

You prepare for your career. You prepare for each work day. So why wouldn’t you prepare for that ritualistic psychology experiment known as the holiday office party?

The yearly office party has attained pop culture notoriety not by chance. Nearly everyone who has been in the workforce long enough can recall an outrageous episode or two.

Remember what John did in ’98? That was nothing compared to Carol in ’02.

If you value your career. If you value your professional relationships. A quick primer on the proper way to behave at the office party is worth a quick scan.

Preparing for the Holiday Office Party

Introduce Yourself

Depending upon the size of the company where you work, your office party may be the only time you have open access to the owner, president, or CEO. This is a great opportunity to let them know who you are, not by way of swimming in the punch bowl, but by introducing yourself. Don’t hang out all night long with a table full of cronies when you can mingle and get to know some of the higher-ups and co-workers from other departments. The office party is a great opportunity to grow your network.

Dress Sharply

Office parties are not the time to don a Hawaiian shirt or wear provocative clothing. The office party is an extension of the office place. The image you have crafted from nine to five can disappear in the course of one evening.

Prepare for Small Talk

Think about topics or questions that you can use as starter conversation. Adjust these starters for different  individuals or potential audiences. Once you get comfortable using them on a few people you know in passing, branch out and get to know a person or two with whom you may not normally have the opportunity to talk to.

Take An Active Role

Whether you realize it or not, people observe those who are participating and those who look like they are in a dentist’s chair. You needn’t go over the top, simply participate in games, activities, or even helping with simple setup or clean up. It will make an impression.

Drink in Moderation

Nothing to expound upon here.

Show Gratitude

Regardless of how you view the office party, someone planned it and someone paid for it. So even if you view it as an irritating inconvenience, be sure to show gratitude. It is very wise to thank whoever is hosting the office party. They likely view it as a benefit, even if you’d rather be watching TV on your couch.

Look Approachable

We’ve heard over and over that verbal communication is a small part of the entire “communication package.” Therefore, keep your nonverbal cues positive. Smiling does wonders and encourages people to respond in kind.

Have a Bite to Eat Beforehand

Don’t arrive “hangry.” Your mood and your ability to handle liquor are affected by an empty stomach. Don’t be the guy with 12 hors d’oeuvres stacked up on a tiny plate.

Be Happy Going to Work the Following Day

Follow these tips and you won’t need to hide your face the next day at work. No one will be showing  video clips of you doing the tango with your tie wrapped around your head. If done correctly, your stock and circle of friends will increase.

image credit Shutterstock




Depressed about the Holidays? Maybe You Have the Holiday Blues

Depressed about the Holidays? Maybe You Have the Holiday Blues

You can’t wait to see your family. You’ll return to the home you grew up in. You’ll eat well. You may have an extra glass of wine because you can sleep in. Sounds a bit like heaven. You’ve even purchased some special gifts for each family member. Nonetheless, you feel a sense of dread. You can’t put your finger on why. Perhaps you  have a case of the holiday blues.

What Are the Holiday Blues?

The holiday blues are any number of feelings such as anxiety, depression, stress, or apathy. Their roots may be buried in a variety of sources, some which you may not even be fully conscious of.

Being part of the holidays usually means you’ll be interacting with family and friends. And when you watch your friends and family interact, sometimes this observation creates an odd dynamic, which accentuates what has changed in everyone’s life and what has not. Indescribable emotions are created.

You think that you should be at the height of happiness, but you are not.

Causes of the Holiday Blues

Potential causes of the holiday blues are far ranging. Here are some of the more common ones.

Disruption in Sleep Patterns

One thing that tends to increase depression and anxiety is poor sleep. During the holidays, folks tend to stay up later, which leaves them feeling tired the next day.

Doing Too Much in a Day

Last minute shopping. Visiting both sides of the family. Leaving late and trying to make up time on the road. Frustration and panic can result.

That Extra Glass of Alcohol

Celebrations often come with alcohol consumption. Over consumption leaves you feeling lousy the entire next day.

Guilt from Overeating

That gigantic piece of cake you normally would stay away from seems easier to eat during the holiday. Guilt can play a role in the holiday blues.

Unrealistic Expectations About Our Family

We love our families, which often leads us to overlook some of their shortcomings. We are often reminded of those shortcomings during holiday get-togethers.

No “Me” Time 

There is so much to do, so many people to see, that we often forget to take a break, be by ourselves for a moment and just empty our thoughts.

Methods to Ease the Burden of the Holiday Blues

In the midst of the holiday season, it is easy to get caught up in emotions. However, a little preparation will help you  identify the onset of emotions. To prepare, try the following:

Find Similarities

Look for similarities between you and Uncle Otis. You may be surprised how delightful Otis is when he is discussing his goldfish. If you maintain grievances, you bottle up all types of negative thoughts.

Just Say No

Know your limits and your boundaries. Don’t participate in every single holiday activity. Prioritize them and attend the ones you ranked the highest.

Maintain Healthy Habits

Keep your sleep patterns intact. Say no to that extra wine and those cupcakes. Avoiding guilt is avoiding the stress guilt causes.

Take a Time Out

Restore inner calm by stepping away from the action for 10-15 minutes. This will reduce stress and refresh your mind.

Allow Yourself to Feel

There is nothing inherently wrong with feeling a bit down. You don’t need to fight “negative” emotions. Forcing feelings can backfire on you. There is no reason you “should” always feel happy and thankful, especially during high-stress holidays.

If the Sun Comes Out, You Go Out

Twenty minutes of sunlight does wonders for the blues. Combine exposure with a brisk walk and these activities will combat many causes for your holiday blues.

No Facebook

Remember that Facebook typically highlights the good in people’s lives. It’s easy to forget this when looking at someone’s New Year’s Eve pictures from Jamaica.

You can’t compete with these human highlight reels. If you need to connect with someone then call them. One phone call to a good friend beats photos of people you barely know living it up at a vacation resort that you can’t even afford.

You Are in Charge of Your Feelings

If you feel the holiday blues coming on, remember: How you react to your feelings is entirely within your control. Sure, there may be some negative feelings, but those will dissipate if you concentrate on what there is to be thankful for this holiday season.