“December is the toughest month of the year. Others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, October, August, and February.” –Mark Twain

Mark Twain may have said it best. Every month can present its difficulties, but, because of idealistic holiday expectations, December may be the toughest time. If you are struggling, here are a few tips to regain your optimism:

1. Avoid social media. We often make comparisons between our real lives and the frozen (frequently posed) images we see on social media. Remember, people rarely post images of themselves during an argument, when they first get up in the morning, or when they are feeling at their worst. The posts which we compare our entire lives to reflect brief, often staged, moments in time. These social comparisons contribute to feelings of sadness and depression at any time of the year, but may have more impact during this time of excessive expectations.

2. Focus upon those parts of your life that are going well. You may be thinking that nothing is going well, but that is rarely true. You may have good friends, a good family, or a good job. You may like where you live. You may have seen a great movie or read a good book. When we are dissatisfied with our lives we tend to focus on the parts that are missing. Make a real or mental list of the accomplishments in your life, and focus on this when you start to feel down.

3. Keep doing those things you enjoy at other times during the year. Maybe you enjoy reading books, baking, exercising, or binge-watching tv shows. Keep doing these things. Don’t feel forced to engage in holiday activities if these activities don’t lift your spirits. In the hectic nature of the month of December, we can lose focus on what works throughout the year to feel better. Make sure you stay involved with activities and people who you enjoy throughout the remainder of the year.