Tips for Healthier Holidays and a Happy New Year

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Teen girl looking at christmas ornament

The holiday season, we are told, is supposed to be bright and full of cheer. As fun as they can be, however, the holidays sometimes can be hard to handle.

Even though school is out, the lack of a normal routine and the increase in social obligations can be overwhelming. And sometimes, we feel like we have to be bright and cheerful, even when we feel down. You might even feel “wrong” if you’re not itching to decorate gingerbread houses or throw confetti as the 2012 ball drops.

The truth is, many teens—and adults—experience boredom, loneliness, or the holiday blues. Here are some ideas to help you ward off stress and enjoy the holidays:

  • Get some exercise. Community centers and health clubs may offer a special reduced price or free use of a gym for teens at holiday time.
  • Don’t commit to too many parties, events, and get-togethers—everyone needs down time.
  • Keep realistic expectations for getting along with family, and understand that it’s not going to be perfect. When things don’t go your way, ask yourself if it’s worth holding on to your anger or if you can just let it go and enjoy the moment.
  • Chat with friends—talk on the phone, text, or de-stress on Facebook—and plan stuff to do.

Help Others To Help Yourself

  • Volunteer at a community soup kitchen, food bank, or hospital.
  • Start a drive to collect food and supplies for a homeless shelter.
  • Visit a neighbor who may be elderly or impaired, or who may not have family around to help them celebrate.
  • See about helping out families with young children who may need some relief to get dinner cooked or gifts wrapped.
  • Start up a holiday dog-walking service for neighbors going out of town.

Stay Active With Friends and Family

  • Organize a gift exchange or a potluck supper with friends or family.
  • Go caroling, then have the group to your house for hot chocolate.
  • Make your own holiday baking gift packages—pre-packaged ingredients and recipe—to deliver to friends and family.
  • Have a cookie baking contest or crazy cupcake competition.
  • Go sledding, try ice skating, or build a snow fort.

Plan a Fun New Year’s Eve

  • Have a sleepover or invite a friend over.
  • Organize a dance-a-thon at your church, school, or rec center. See if the adults want to offer gift certificates or coupons for dance contest winners.
  • Check to see if there’s a local First Night celebration. First Night is an organization that throws citywide New Year’s Eve activities.
  • Start a tradition in your neighborhood with a flag football holiday bowl league.

Do you have suggestions for getting into the holiday spirit that might help other teens? Let us know. “Leave a Reply” in the box below, or send us a message. As always, we read all of your comments and feedback.

Sara Bellum will not post next week. Have happy and healthy holidays, and we’ll see you in 2012.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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