The holidays are supposed to be the feel-good time of year, yet some experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety and depression during them, a phenomenon that psychologists sometimes refer to as the holiday blues. You can safeguard your mood by recognizing emotional triggers and coming up with a strategy to manage them. Atlanta-based psychologist Sherry Blake, Ph.D. (aka Dr. Sherry), offers her best advice for keeping your spirits up when encountering five commonly stressful scenarios.

If you feel like you didn’t achieve your goals this year…

“We tend to spend a lot of time on what we did not get accomplished, as opposed to what we did. Just because you didn’t reach all your milestones doesn’t mean that you didn’t do anything of value. Avoid comparing yourself with someone else. Look at your own situation and ask yourself, What was I able to do? Did I make some progress? How can I still carry forward that goal?”

If you get laid off…

“First of all, you accept the fact that this is not what you planned, but you are going to get through it. You have to tell yourself you won’t allow it to ruin everything for you and your loved ones. How can you scale back on spending but still enjoy the holidays? Focus on what you need to do right now and remind yourself that you will be okay.”

If you’re dealing with a recent breakup…

“Don’t fall into the trap of going down memory lane during the holidays. You have to deal with what is rather than what could have been. Don’t go to the old haunts and think about how last year at this time you were with your boo. And disconnect from social media—it’s triggering. Instead, plan to be with friends or take mini breaks by yourself to enjoy the things you want to do. This is the time to set a new norm for yourself.”

If you’ve recently lost a loved one…

“You will feel sad. That is normal. Let the tears fall. But don’t get stuck there. Yes, it’s going to be hard, but you will get through this. How? Spend time with supportive friends and other loved ones who understand your situation. But also allow yourself to have some me-time. You aren’t being selfish. Carving out a space for self-care is just as important.”

If visiting family usually causes drama…

“Don’t get caught up in it. And, if possible, limit your time. Have a plan before going in and know when you intend to leave. When you sense things are about to go south and you’re feeling the tension, start saying your goodbyes. Don’t wait until it builds up. You might prefer to start your own rituals and traditions and bypass the drama completely.”

This article originally appeared in the November issue of ESSENCE.

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