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Five ways to cope with the post-holiday blues

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

For many, there’s a big letdown that happens this time of year. The Capital-H Holidays are just about done – Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Festivus, All College Football All The Time – but vestiges remain. The tree, perilously dry, still sits in the corner of the room. The Menorah is still in the window. And a muted sense of letdown pervades.

Here are a few ideas for beating that holiday downer. And, in one case, a suggestion that if you can’t beat ‘em, you can join ‘em – at least for a little while.

1. Sit with the feelings. As important as it is to move forward, it is equally important to recognize that your feelings are completely normal, and legitimate. We naturally grieve the losses in our lives, and getting to the end of the holiday season is definitely a loss. We’re socialized to just “get over it” with so many things, and something as important as grieving shouldn’t be neglected. Emotions, if left to do their work, are like waves – let them wash over you, experience them, honor them, and then move ahead with the next moment in your life.

2. Give thanks. Studies show that those who experience genuine gratitude tend to be happier and lead more fulfilling lives. Did you just give cursory thanks for the gifts you were given, or did you genuinely express how you felt? It’s never too late. And, interestingly, researchers say that study participants keeping a “gratitude list” were more likely to have made progress toward personal goals than those who didn’t. Anyone making personal goals this time of year? Yeah… I thought so.

3. Celebrate your clean slate. As symbolic as it may be, the dawning of a new year (and a new decade!) can be a great opportunity to start fresh. Balance the loss of the holiday season with the gain of an entirely new year to play with.

4. Think positive. There will be a lot of upcoming posts about this very topic, I promise. The short version is that you can train yourself to think in a more positive way, which in turn leads to tangible positive change in your life. Spend just a few minutes approaching the new year with a positive spin.

5. Engage. Give your all to whatever it is that you’re doing at the moment. After all, that moment is the only one you have. Here’s an example: When you’re taking down your tree (or putting away your Menorah, or your Festivus Pole… you get the idea), dedicate yourself to completely engaging in the process. Take a good look at each ornament. Feel how they feel in your hands. Feel the prickly needles of the tree, the smooth coolness of the glass ornaments. Remember where specific decorations came from. Take a deep breath and fill your lungs with the scents of the holidays. When you feel yourself drift away (bills are due January 1! I have to go back to work soon! Little Johnny didn’t like his presents!) bring yourself back, physically. Feel your feet on the floor. Touch the tree. Breathe the air. Engage. As you move into the new year, we’ll work on staying engaged. For now, for this moment, be IN it. All the way.

The days to come hold promise of all sorts of awesomeness. Let the holidays slip from your fingers, slowly, and move into a new year full of possibility.