Most people don’t recognize it, but we’ve actually hit a very special time of year. We’ve hit what I like to call the season of blech. What I mean by this is that this is a very difficult time of year. We suffer from a sort of holiday hangover, and a lot of things encourage us to feel a bit apathetic and droopy.
In particular, this is the time of year when days are still very short and we feel sluggish and droopy. We also struggle to recover from our holiday regalia. It’s not to uncommon to find your weight a few pounds heavier and your wallet a few pounds lighter (shush, I know we’re not in Britain, but it’s not as clever sounding to say dollars). This is also when most people start to struggle with New Year resolutions due to waning motivation and willpower.
As you can see, this can be a very difficult time of year. To deal with this fact, here are some tips for battling your seasonal slump:
Depending on who you are, you might find the idea of practicing gratitude to be a little cheesy, but there is actually good reason to do it. If you explore the world of Positive Psychology, you’ll find that gratitude plays a huge role in personal happiness. This is because when we experience a sense of gratitude it shifts our thinking to something more positive and motivated.
So, the reason to practice gratitude is that it’s one way to fight that sluggishness and depression that comes with getting less daylight. Try creating a journal or even just make a policy to stop once a day and just mentally list anything that you can think of to be grateful for. It seems like a silly exercise but it can be very powerful if you try it. Doing this daily over the course of a month will even reprogram how your brain thinks and result in you being generally happier.
Realign yourself with what you care about
A few months ago, my girlfriend, Tia, and I were very gushy and lovey dovey, then, Tia unfortunately encountered a bout of clinical depression, and our relationship shifted mostly to us just staying emotionally afloat. Tia is thankfully better now, but we lost a lot of that lovey doviness that we had before. To address that, we had to spend a lot of time remembering what our relationship looked like when we were happiest and thinking about how we wanted our relationship to be instead of just getting by. After we did that, our relationship quickly got better, and now we’re back to being that couple that nauseates everybody else with excessive PDA’s.
This sort of experience is common when you’ve had a stressful period in your life. It’s one of the reasons the holiday season can be a bit dreadful. We hit these periods and we go into a sort of survival mode. We’re solely focused on just coping and surviving, and often our old way of life gets temporarily lost in the process.
To deal with this, you want to actually think about how you were before the holidays began. Think about what mattered to you, what made you happy, and how you were living.
This is what I mean by realigning yourself. We often forget who we were and why we used to be happy and full of life. Try to rekindle that part of yourself by spending an hour thinking about your happier moments and thinking about how you can feel like that again. Then set some goals to start living happy again.
Learn to love yourself more
If you’ve been struggling with a lot of personal goals, experiencing mild seasonal depression, and dealing with a lot of personal frustration, it can really easy to beat yourself up. Many people get focused on all the things they have done wrong and all the things they think they should be doing.
Try to take some time where you sit and just be nurturing to yourself. Learn to love yourself no matter the situation. You’d never say to somebody else “I’ll only love you if you meet all my expectations and don’t make mistakes.” In fact, we would never dare treat others the way we treat ourselves.
Recognize that this negative self-talk is abusive. Instead of beating yourself up, the next time you get frustrated with yourself, change into your comfiest clothes, grab a bowl of ice-cream, and watch a good movie. You deserve to do nice things for yourself. Life is too short, and if you spend all your time believing you have to earn your own kindness, you’ll miss out on a lot of happiness.
It might sound silly, but this is one of the most useful things you can do during the winter time. I tend to be partial to long walks, but even just spending 5 minutes of your lunch break outdoors can help.
During the winter months, days are shorter and we are outside less often. This means we get a lot less sunlight which we need to get our daily dose of vitamin D. In minor cases, this just results in us being a bit more droopy and sluggish, but with some people this can even cause full blown depression. By getting out and soaking some rays, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, you help your body stay biochemically happy, and you can help yourself cope a lot better during winter months.
Anyway, the winter months can be difficult, especially if you have had a taxing set of holidays. Try to be proactive and don’t let a difficult time of year dictate your life. Live well and have fun.
Images provided by Evelyn Lim, Jack Newton, and Neil Conway.