Beating the Post-Holiday Blues
The new year brings with it many reasons to celebrate and plan with hopefulness. There are goals and resolutions to set, plus that special feeling that at 12:01 a.m. on January 1st everything is new and ripe with promise.
Then it’s back to work, no more parties, overcast days and less extended time with friends or family. Part of the novelty and wonder of the holidays lies in its passing nature — it only comes around once a year. But when the decorations are packed away…sometime before the end of January, right?… and the festivities have faded, I find myself wanting for those bits of light, warmth and goodness. I get a little bummed out.
Channeling Scrooge…happy Scrooge, that is
I’m a big fan of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (because who doesn’t love a good ghost story and anything later adapted by The Muppets?) And I always come away from the story musing upon the sentiment that the joy and goodwill of the holidays can last all year. Holidays aside, it’s an admirable idea: Be kind to yourself and others every day.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “That’s a tall order to fill, buddy. And neither one nor three ghosts have come to scare me into living a more joyful life” — then you’re probably not alone in your skepticism… and you really know your Dickens! The truth is, we don’t need thematic spirits to come spook us into kinder living, real life is difficult and scary enough on its own. The key is to seek out the light, instead of the always-accessible darkness.
So how do we do it?
How do we keep the goodness flowing in our lives? Give yourself some time to think about what brings you joy, check out these ideas and give one a try. You may find that a combination keeps your good vibes vibing, or you may discover a different tactic that’s better. Bottom line, do what is best for you.
Keep in touch
If connecting with friends or family is what you miss most about the holiday season, then make it a priority throughout the year. Schedule a phone call, write a letter or set a regular coffee date. Scheduling time for loved ones may seem unnecessary, but it’s the goals we don’t plan that usually fall by the wayside.
A handful of my friends recently moved to different states, so we schedule monthly video chats. I’ve taken virtual tours of their new homes and chatted with them while they cook a meal. It’s the kind of stuff we would do if we were living in the same town, so keeping it up helps to close the distance.
You may find yourself attending more events or volunteering around the holidays — activities that make you a part of something bigger than yourself. So find a way to keep it up: Join a club, association or charity that connects you with like-minded folks. Shared experience reminds us to look within and beyond ourselves.
Take time for yourself
We don’t all get to take time off for the holidays, but you probably make time for at least one holiday tradition. Whether it’s watching a favorite movie, baking cookies or savoring the first hot chocolate of the season, the point is that you’re taking time out for yourself and making a good memory. Keep making time for little moments like these throughout the year. Those memorable moments add up over time, reminding us to be good to ourselves.
Light up your life
The Christmas tree is one of my favorite parts of the holidays. I love the ritual of decorating the tree with my keepsake ornaments, and then basking in its glow almost meditatively when it’s all lit up. But once the tree is gone, our home seems kind of bare.
This year, I decided to replace that beauty and light with a new candle in my favorite color, cobalt blue. The brilliant blue glass reminds me of my sweet father that has passed away. (He also loved the color in everything from his drinking glasses to stained glass artwork.) I actually asked for the candle and a piece of amethyst for Christmas so I could pair the two in dazzling splendor, lighting the candle in remembrance of Dad and watching the flicker reflect off the amethyst crystals. Find a form of positive light that brings you joy, and let it fill your space with healing thoughts or good memories.
It’s good to help others, and it feels good to help others — it’s humbling, it grows our gratitude and reminds us that we are all connected. But that connection doesn’t dissolve after the new year, human need is ongoing. So be generous often and in any way you can. Generosity can be charitable, but it can also come in the form of simple goodwill: Hold the door open for someone or say thank you to anyone providing a service to you. These types of gestures don’t cost a thing, but they’re worth so very much:)