Seasonal TV shows... sparkling gifts in stores... magazines full of beautiful holiday scenes. We're often shown the holiday season as an amazing and joyful time, but maybe your personal holidays aren't quite so perfect. And this can be disappointing for many people.

We'd all like everything to be as wonderful as in the movies, but it's not a fair comparison when we measure how our lives and holidays compare to what the media is constantly showing us.

While it's fine to enjoy all we see, we must remind ourselves that those TV holiday shows look so good because they've had many professional designers creating just the right touches. Same thing goes for the holiday store displays or those strikingly beautiful magazine ads. None of these show real life, but rather an idealized version made specifically to impress us.

The perfect holiday world of ads and TV aren't the only reason some of us suffer holiday blues. This is often a time of the year when we forget about eating and living healthfully. We overeat when tempted by holiday treats. We may drink more alcohol than usual. We probably are blaming the weather and our busy holiday schedule for not bothering to exercise.

There are, fortunately, things you can do to combat blue holiday feelings. Rather than envying the fantasy lives you see on TV, or imagining how wonderful the holidays are for your neighbors or other friends, instead focus on all the things in your own life that are good and positive. Identify all the things you personally have and enjoy about this season.

You can also fight blue feelings by keeping control of your life. Avoid excess treats and drinking. Enjoy holiday special foods and beverages in moderation, stick with your regular schedule, get plenty of rest and make time for daily exercise, even if it's just a brief walk.

It's also important not to isolate yourself. Find time for family and friends, and enjoy the season with them. Time spent with others can do a great deal to improve your mood.

But for some people the holiday blues can be difficult to fight. Sad holiday emotions, like all depression, can become a serious mental health problem and not one to be ignored. If depression is affecting you, talk to a professional counselor who can provide help so you can make the best of your holidays and life.

"Counseling Corner" is provided by the American Counseling Association. Comments and questions to ACAcorner@counseling.org or visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

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