How do those of us who struggle to get into the spirit of the season make it through the holidays?
The holidays are supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” Snow dusting the ground, carols and lights everywhere and reunions with old family and friends.
But what if the holidays make you blue?
Through no conscious decision, millions of people can begin a season of depression when December rolls around. It could be the shorter, darker days, the pressure of parties, finding gifts or the jewelery commercials insisting he should be slipping the perfect engagement ring on your finger.
So how do those of us who struggle to get into the spirit of the season make it through the holidays?
1. Breathe. Find a quiet place to sit, quiet your mind, deepen your breath, and give yourself permission to have a blank mind for ten minutes. Call it meditation, or don’t. When you feel overwhelmed, try to take time for a conscious breath to reset.
2. Be in the now. Spinning your wheels into the past or future does absolutely no good. Despite trying emotions or situations during the holidays, try to be in the present. Focus on some silly thing your little niece said, or how beautiful the frost glistening on the window is. These tiny moments can help you realize the happiness around you and give you a reason to smile.
3. Gratitude. Try to focus on all you are grateful for without judgment or guilt. Although counting your blessings may cause you to spin into an envy over expectations of what you should have, think big picture. Accept your dismay as a temporary holiday lull. Remember that you have your health, job security, family, friends and/or any other piece of gratitude, in your everyday life.
4. Get busy. If you have time off for the holidays, keep busy and check off that to-do list you don’t have time for when you are working. Paint the spare room. Start that art project. Research new car insurance. Fill the gift of time with hobbies, errands and chores instead of sadness.
5. Exercise. What’s your poison? Whether it is the gym, yoga, walking the dog, or going on a hike, you’ll feel better when you’ve accomplished a good workout.
6. Don’t watch sappy holiday movies. (Or do.) If It’s a Wonderful Life gets you all choked up and feeling good, by all means watch it! But if it means you’ll cry for the next two hours and feel worthless, why put yourself through it? Turn off your TV to avoid those holiday commercials and shows and break out your DVDs of The Office instead.
Always remember that there are people out there struggling to make it to January 1st, you are not alone. Be compassionate and invite someone who may have the holiday blues on a long walk with you and if that doesn’t work, break out the rum and eggnog!
Alexa Maxwell is a writer, teacher, traveler and student of yoga. She is a huge fan of elephant journal and is honored to be part of the herd. Watch for more posts as she attempts to maintain a steady yoga practice while solo traveling through South America. (YIKES!) You can read more at her blog, follow her on Twitter @catnipkiss or wait for her upcoming travel memoir, which is a work in progress.
~Assistant Ed: Kate Konieczny