Following a 4 mile run this past Sunday (well actually 3.8 but doesn’t 4 sound so much better?? so close!) in warm weather (for January), our endorphins were pumping and all that energy resulted in a positive mood and prompted us to finally take down our Christmas tree – the tree that has been sitting “naked” for the past couple of days. That same tree, mind you, once taken down, often symbolizes the end of another holiday season.
On the heels of Halloween ending and cooler days and nights prevail, our lives move at rapid speed. Hallmark is all over the holiday season like “white on rice”, which for them begins when Halloween decorations go on sale at 50% off! Maybe even before (ugh!!)
Holiday time is consistent with (over) spending on gifts, attending parties, decorations, excitement as well as dread, the energy with which sometimes equal varying amounts of drama and tension, an abundance of FOOD, and holiday cheer. It’s the time of year that elevates and changes a person’s mood (both good and bad) but can result in “crashing” with a holiday hangover come January 2nd. The bills that promptly arrive in the mail certainly don’t help the situation.
Which begs the question. What can top all that excitement over the last two months when ol’ man winter brings us short and cold days with inclement weather, dark mornings and evenings, no breaks until mid February (unless you are lucky enough to get MLK day off), and little to no sunshine?
Well, when saddled up against all flurry and excitement, people to see and places to go, the answer would probably be, not much.
But perspective is everything. So is attitude.
Why not consider these eight ways to curb your holiday hangover, make the polar vortex days of winter feel a little less cold, a little more fun, and hopefully enriching – sans a Bloody Mary!
1. Create a Happiness Jar. This creative idea was created by Elizabeth Gilbert. In essence, grab a scrap of paper and write down upon it the happiest moment of that day. Put a date on it, fold it up and stick it in the jar. That’s it! The result can be enormous — not only the pleasure of finding a good moment in each day (for even the horrible days have one least-bad moment) but the lasting benefits of recording that moment forever. Try it! I have started my own.
2. Sunshine on my shoulders. (Who, besides me, just thought of the John Denver song?) A small amount of sunshine exposure without sunscreen for about 20-25 minutes can increase serotonin and improve your mood. The warmth on our face makes us feel good, good to be alive!
3. Plan a short trip. This could involve a weekend jaunt somewhere or part of the weekend. It could even include a day trip. A trip to a museum, a historical place, or a short drive to an unknown place. We have started to plan a couple of short weekend trips in the next few months. There is fun in just the excitement of planning and looking forward to something. We all need something to look forward to, both short and long term plans that keep us motivated, lift our mood, and help us through those long, cold days of winter.
4. Mindfulness. Be. In. The. Moment. Appreciate the quiet. Curl up and read a book. Practice gratitude for all the things you have. Be kind to yourself.
5. The inside job. Who doesn’t have a project (or 10) that they have been putting off? I dare say so few of us. Certainly not me. Make a commitment to yourself to tackle some of your inside projects that have been on hold. I have decided to get my pictures in order – you know the old fashioned kind! The kind you put in a photo album that is in your living room that you can look through together or when you have company. Not everything we do today has to be digital. A feeling of accomplishment will wash over you!
6. Give back. We all know that helping others, helps ourselves. It doesn’t have to be intensive, overly time consuming, or occur only during the holidays when demand is higher. Its the time in between the holidays, even if its just a few hours a month. It can make a world of difference in someone’s life. It not only encourages altruism but we feel good when we can pay it forward. It also helps create gratitude in our own life.
7. Start a hobby. I don’t know about you, but this year I have decided to use some of my time outside of work doing something fun. Join a book club, take up dance, learn a new language, or start a new activity/exercise. Since moving to NYC, I have been cranking out some serious work hours and have not had the time (or if I did, I didn’t use the time to add a hobby to my lifestyle). That is changing! If one hobby doesn’t work out, try another one. There are plenty out there.
8. Seek help. However, sometimes doing any of these suggestions feels arduous and difficult and could be the case if you are one of the 12 million people who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Psychotherapy, light therapy, exercise, medication, and diet changes have all been proven as effective treatments for SAD. For others, Major Depression, a serious mental illness (and not simply the blues), can significantly affect a person’s ability to partake in any of these activities. Psychotherapy and/or medication among other resources can be of help. Get the help you need.
Before you know it, we will be looking at winter in our rear view mirror – and looking at this instead!
Ho do you beat the winter blues?
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