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8 Ways To Say NO To Chanukah Blues

8 Ways to say NO to Chanukah Blues

Chanukah is often a time of mixed emotions. Some of us look forward to seeing the flicker of the Chanuka Candles, the smell of fresh latkes and the delight of the spinning dreidel. However, it can also be a time of increased stress and anxiety as it means a break from routine. For those who need to travel home and spend extended periods of time with family it can be extra stressful.

For many individuals, spending time with family members can trigger unwanted memories or habits which no longer serve them. Additionally, the stress of providing others with gifts & increased awareness of what others have and we don’t have can be upsetting.

For those who don’t have family with whom to share the holidays, the season can be one of increased loneliness and despondency. It is easy to look around and see what others appear to have and be quick to judge ourselves harshly or curse our fates.

What are some tools we can utilize to overcome these fears and better manage our emotions and increased vulnerability during this season?

Whether we’re going home to spend quality time with loved ones or taking a few days off for “staycation,” we all deserve to maintain a sense of equilibrium and inner peace over the the joyous days of Chanuka.

Try these 8 tips to avoid Chanukah blues the Jewish way

1Stick with routine

Stick to a healthy routine as much as possible. Wake up close to your normal wake-time. The body has its own rhythm that needs to be maintained. Sleeping in once or twice is okay of course, but continuously over-sleeping in will lead to increased stress, depression, and overall yuckiness.

2Break with a capital B

Avoid work-related obligations as much as possible; if you’re taking a break, really take a break and let your to do’s wait until you are back at work. Don’t half break – half work lest you end up a miserable.

3Unplug

Rediscover your world, and try going cell-phone, laptop, or tablet free for a specific duration. Maybe for the first half hours the candles are lit, a particularly auspicious time. When we are free from the distraction of our phones, a world of curiosity and possibilities opens up.

4Keep moving

Stick to a fitness routine; the extra food and less movement over the holidays can catch up to us emotionally and having a fitness routine built in is one way of combating this. Exercise also reduces anxiety and stress by increasing the production of feel good hormones circulating our bodies.

5Stay with therapy & meds

If you are in therapy or taking medication make sure you have your medication and discuss potential issues with your therapist ahead of time. Take advantage of  remote sessions if necessary or helpful to avoid unnecessary last-minute crisis and complications. Just because you’re taking a break from work, your emotional health need not suffer.

6Food & mood

Watch what you eat; stay mindful of food choices & portion sizes. This is not about being calorie conscious, this is about how foods affect us in different ways. It is important to realize the effect food has on our energy levels (salt, sugar, caffeine, alcohol etc.), especially the fried foods we are accustomed to on Chanukah. If you find yourself sensitive to the food and mood correlation, try cutting portions in half, and have fun experimenting with healthy food swaps like baked latkes or donuts!

7Excuse yourself, yes you can!

Know how to remove yourself politely. If people are discussing something you find stressful or hurtful it’s okay to walk away and take some time for yourself. Indulge in some music, a favorite podcast, catch a shower or short walk to pass the time productively. I recently discovered a great podcast from Dr. Philip Muskin, Professor of Psychiatry New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where he shares insights and pointers on “Holiday Blues”. Check it out here.

8Designate a safety pal

Try to have a ‘safety person’; someone you can utilize if you find yourself overwhelmed. This is a person you can check-in with to remind you to breathe and take a time-out. This can be your therapist, friend, parent, sibling, or get creative.

For more talk on holidays, coping skills, and dealing with emotions check out these topics

Dealing with Emotions

Dealing with difficult family members

Managing Expectations for the Holidays

Wishing you a joyous and light-filled Chanukah!

About the author:

Therapist, LMHC
Brooklyn, NY
 

Yehuda (Hudi) Kowalsky

Hudi Kowalsky, LMHC is a Mental Health Counselor born and bred in Brooklyn, NY
Hudi received his Masters in Counseling from NYU and has trained in Family and Couples Counseling, Trauma and Dialectical Behavior Therapy. He believes treatment requires a holistic approach with far-reaching effects on the client, their environment and the world at large.
Hudi has also worked extensively with Holocaust Survivors and victims of trauma.
Aside from his clinical work, he is also a guitar player and provides lessons to young adults both in group settings and individually.
Hudi also has a strong Yoga practice and blends ancient Eastern philosophy into his treatment approach.

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. This is really helpful. Too often when we have time allotted to take a break we stay focused on the work we’re trying to distance ourselves from. And even when we don’t, we can find new ways to stress ourselves out when we’re supposed to be relaxing. It’s important to remember to not “half-break” and to just try to enjoy the free time we have.

  2. Thank you for all the helpful tips! We can all use these reminders to help us deal with the stressors that we encounter as we go along this beautiful yet stressful time of the year.

  3. Unplugging is so important when it comes to re-centering yourself. It almost never feels as if there’s enough time when you’re constantly checking your phone for notifications, and that nasty habit of tapping your pocket because you feel a phantom vibration really gets on my nerves! When my phone is a paper weight I finally feel like I can breath and enjoy the moment. Great tip, and wonderful article.

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