According to Psychology Today, Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of season-specific depression, is not attributed to dreary winter weather alone, but also to unrealistic expectations of what the holidays should be. You need only turn on the Hallmark Channel or sit through 3 minutes of holiday commercials to get sucked into the Christmas-perfect abyss that leaves us all trying desperately to make our Christmastime perfect. For some of us, we take another path entirely, dwelling on reasons why our holiday could never be perfect. As you rush to trim the tree and snag those last-minute gifts, here are 5 holiday hacks to paint over the Christmas blues and learn to make Christmas your own unique version of merry…

Get Off the Hamster Wheel This Christmas… Conquer Financial Strains by Making Budgeting an Adventure.

Christmas is a time of year that can turn even the most logical of people into totally irrational shoppers who seem to go blindfolded into the store and grab at anything left on the racks. (Elephant repelant. Jingle bell hats. Hidden Doors. It doesn’t matter. Whatever is left.) The holidays and the hype that surrounds them have created in all of us a false sense of urgency. We must spend every dime. We must get just ONE more gift to make the tree look full. We must do all of this on time. This kind of all or nothing thinking is not only terrible for your wallet, but it is also even more terrible for your emotional well-being.

Budgeting your Christmas spending can be enjoyable if you make it an adventure. Look for new and innovative ways to give. Consider steering clear of wish lists and going straight for the surprise factor of the season which can take a big bulk of the weight from budgeting concerns… and make Christmas a lot more fun in the process. Don’t immediately go for the big-ticket items and make at least one hand-made gift that requires effort and thought. Also, consider taking stress off your plate by looking into life insurance and some investments that can secure your future. These simple-yet-effective steps can help you to budget merrily and take back your joy. Once the holidays are over, turn to a trusted finance company who can help you to get back on track for next year.

Accept Help When You Need It… Even If Temporarily.

The holidays can be especially difficult for caregivers. Trying to get everything done while also overseeing the health and well-being of an elderly parent can become extremely taxing. Admitting that it is difficult to go it alone can be even tougher. It certainly does make for a lot of unwarranted caregiver guilt.

The truth is that when you spread yourself too thin… NOBODY gets the best of you. Enlisting the help of a home care aide, even if just for the holidays, can open up not only the chance to spend time with your family and get time to yourself, but also to spend the kind of time with your elderly parent that you might not get to spend otherwise… the kind that has nothing to do with necessity and everything to do with just enjoying the season together. Bake cookies. Decorate the tree. Dance to White Christmas. Let your aide tackle the things you normally handle alone.

Get on the Therapist’s Sofa… We Promise… It’s NOTHING Like You Think. You’ll Love It.

Christmas is a time when we don’t really like to think about what going wrong in our worlds, but in the light of all the expectations of the season, Christmas can really shine a light on the areas of our lives that need the most work. Many people avoid going to therapy because they are afraid of what they think is the inevitable dialogue of words like “tell me about your father” or “so, what went wrong in your marriage.” However, therapy is not a trip down a terrible memory lane, but instead, a place to get things off your chest in the present and learn new, positive tools to make the bad stuff not so bad anymore. No matter what is going on in your life, gifting yourself with a therapy session just might be the best gift you ever received.

*If you or someone you love is struggling with thought of suicide, please visit The Suicide Prevention Hotline for instant chat and resources or dial 1-800-273-8255 for 24/7 help whenever you need it.

Give Some Good… Get Some Good.

Appreciating what you have and not focusing on what you don’t have is one of the best ways to conquer that “not enough” feeling that has a way of coming around at Christmastime. Donate your time, talents or service to charitable causes in your neighborhood. If you have trouble getting out of your comfort zone, volunteer a little further away from home. You would be surprised how much more you will come out of your shell simply by being away from what you know. Not only does giving back give good to the world around you… but it also gives good back to you, with a feeling that you simply cannot buy or put a sticker price on.

Consider a Change of Scenery. It’s Easier Than You Know.

Winter means that you will be stuck indoors for much of the next few months. However, just because you are stuck inside does not mean that you must feel like you are lost in a sea of the same four, boring walls. A fresh coat of paint and some brightly colored textiles can help make your home feel like a brand-new space. If you are renting, opt for bold tapestries and funky lighting instead. Renting or paying a mortgage, switch out old photographs for an instant splash of new that costs nothing… and if you simply need an actual chance of scenery (and fast), consider starting the New Year off in a new space.

The holidays leave us all feeling like we need to do more, buy more and all-around reevaluate our life in general. Am I with the right person if he gets a little Grinchy during the holidays? Would Christmas be this hard if I had more friends? Would it be happier if I had more money to spend on my children? Would one more gift make it better? Ruminating over every little detail is just an inescapable part of the holidays, but if we counter those fly-by-night feelings of the blues with logic and a healthy dose of appreciation for what we have, we will find that just like the lights that don our trees, Christmas lights up best when we put on a full display of colors.