The holidays can be so stressful and hectic, and like it or not, we are typically surrounded by people. Lots of people. Family members, friends, colleagues at your office holiday party, crowds of people in the malls, restaurants, and traffic…the list goes on and on.
Then, poof! its over and everything is eerily quiet, or comparatively so.
For many, this drop in activity and social interaction leaves a feeling of loneliness and emptiness. Couple that with single digit temperatures outside… and oh, those New Years Resolutions that you’ve already forgotten about, again…and. (deep sigh) yep, the winter blues have crept right in.
Regardless of why the first few weeks after the holidays can be emotionally overwhelming.
My top 3 go-to’s when getting in a winter funk: Lights, Connection, Action!!
Let there be light!
It’s common knowledge lack of sunlight during the winter months is connected to feeling down. The scientific term is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and while some people suffer from it severely, almost everyone agrees the gloom of winter is a downer. Dress warm and go outdoors if you’re able. Being cold stinks, but as long as you’re warm, breathing the brisk air can be invigorating. If you’re a dog owner like me, you know that getting them out sometimes is a pain, but everyone is much happier after. Have an elderly neighbor with a dog? Offer to help them. They’ll appreciate it, and doing something for someone can really lift your spirits. However, you choose to do it, don’t get too cooped up inside.
Open your curtains and let the light shine in. A lot of times, we close them because they do help insulate and keep the heat in. I get it. Keeping the heat in is good, but the flip side is that it blocks the light out. Even if you only open them for an hour a day, let there be light! You’ll feel better.
Feeling blue, try Gratitude for Happiness
It’s almost impossible to feel down when you have a real sense of gratitude. Take a moment to think of anyone that did something extra special over the holidays and reach out to thank them. You could call them, send them a card, or an email. I discourage texting, but if that’s what feels right to you, then by all means, go for it. Everyone loves to receive thanks and to get outside of yourself and to connect with another person with a grateful heart creates endorphins related to happiness (Psychology Today)
Make a plan
Just get going again. Think of how focused you were during the holidays. How ever you celebrate, making plans, meeting deadlines, reaching goals is a big part of the process, and chances are, you did all of that without even being aware of it. Now is your opportunity to focus on something for yourself. We all have something we’d like to accomplish and have procrastinated on (until after the holidays?)
Here are a few ideas.
Pick an area of your life you want to work on. Are you happy with your career? How’s your love life? Still eating Christmas candy or just feeling the after-effects and ready to get back into healthy habits? Thought about starting a business or writing a book or taking up a new hobby? Pick one (or two), and write down your ultimate goal with it. Even if it seems lofty now, as long as there is some reality to it, get it on paper. Then break it down into chunks by what you need to accomplish in (for example) one year or six months. Then what do you need to get done each month to get to the end? After that, break it into weekly goals to reach your monthly objective. Lastly, what can you do TODAY to meet your weekly commitment?
Don’t put massive stress or pressure on yourself.
That’s counterproductive. The stress will create negative feelings that will ultimately be the demise of the plan. Even people who think they are motivated by pain or panic typically fizz out. It just doesn’t work, or at least not for long. If you find yourself feeling angst or stress, try setting SMART GOALS. These are smaller, more specific and managable goals allowing you to celebrate even your simplest victory.
Winter can feel like an ending while you’re waiting for the new beginnings that come with spring. However, it doesn’t have to be. There are only so many tomorrows, and letting nearly 90 of them pass you by does not serve your highest good. You deserve so much more out of life. Let yourself live it to the fullest.