The holidays are over. While this can sometimes bring about a hopefulness for the New Year, it can also bring about some serious post holiday blues. You might be feeling blah, lethargic, or depressed, or perhaps you notice an overall sense of feeling deflated. Thankfully, there are a ton of scientifically backed ways to deal with post holidays blues. And today, I’ve got you covered.
Practice gratitude. If you read my site often, then you already know about my obsession with gratitude. Gratitude is one of the biggest contributors to happiness, and researchers are starting to uncover all sorts of goodness about gratitude. As humans, our brains are wired to focus on the negative. Gratitude involves training our brains to notice the positives, no matter how small they may be. A steaming cup of coffee, five extra minutes of peace before the kids come barreling downstairs, or hitting green lights all the way to an appointment,. Challenge yourself to name three new things to be grateful for each day, meaning no repeats. If you stick with this exercise every day for at least three weeks, you’ll be amazed at how your outlook on life starts to shift.
Schedule something fun. Take notice that I didn’t say “do something fun,” but rather, schedule something fun. Research shows that anticipating and looking forward to something often increases the positive experience of actually doing the fun thing. By scheduling the activity or event, you’re giving yourself the anticipation of the experience plus the experience. The activity or event doesn’t have to be expensive or outrageous. It simply needs to be something you’ll enjoy. Put it on the calendar at least two or three weeks in advance, and enjoy both the anticipation and the experience.
Exercise. Research is pretty consistent about the mental and emotional impact of exercise. But this doesn’t have to mean spending hours at the gym or glued to the treadmill. Just focus on moving for twenty minutes or so. Take the dog on a longer than normal walk, try a Zumba class with a friend, bike to the local library, or throw the football with your kids. Exercise is the last thing you feel like doing when you’re down, yet it’s one of the most proven methods for boosting your mood.
Change it up. We can sometimes get into a rut, doing the same routine over and over, particularly during the winter months. Find a small way to change your routine and/or scenery. Instead of eating dinner at the table, grab a blanket and make it a picnic in the living room. Make your weekly meeting with your employee a walking meeting this week, or ditch your Friday night takeout for a make your own pizza night at home. No matter how small or silly it seems, shake things up!
Establish a post holiday tradition. We have all sorts of traditions between November and December, yet when January rolls around, those seem to come to a screeching halt. Find a fun tradition to start with family or friends, no matter how simple or silly it may seem. This ties in with the second point listed above. Be intentional with creating joyful traditions. It’s an easy way to keep those post holiday blues at bay.
Remember, we don’t always have a choice what life (or winter) throws our way, but we absolutely have a choice in how we respond. So why not respond in a way that maximizes your mental and emotional health? Say hello to a few new strategies, and say goodbye to those post holiday blues.