Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post just prior to the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I debated as to whether I should continue to post this, or should I write about this tragedy instead. But the truth is I have no words right now. This incident was unspeakable and nothing I could say would make it any less horrible. Maybe I’ll be able to write about it someday, but just not today. So instead I have a simple blog for you about getting into the holiday spirit if you are feeling a little down. Please understand that I am referring to your every day common Funk, and not the depression or grief that results from a major loss. Thank you and my prayers are with anyone that is grieving a loss this season.
This blog post are for those of us that just aren’t feeling the holidays this year. For whatever personal reason you just can’t seem to get into the spirit, or maybe you’ve even come down with a case of the holiday blues. The holiday blues is a real psychology term used to describe a short period of depression that last for a few weeks during the holiday season. This depression can be brought on by a number of things. Perhaps you are single and are starting to feel a little lonely without a date during the holidays, you can’t fly home to be with your family this year, you don’t have the funds you need to buy all the gifts on your shopping list, or maybe your just fed up with the hustle and bustle of it all.
Last week I was feeling pretty down and couldn’t figure out why, until I realized that I too had come down with a case of the holiday blues. To be perfectly honest I feel like I’m getting jipped out of Christmas this year. As I am finishing up graduate school, I have finals through the 21st and then will be taking a board exam right after Christmas. This basically means I am studying and working harder then I ever have before. Instead of having Christmas lights strewn across my apartment, I have a colorful array of flash cards and highlighted text books. And instead of staying up late to finish writing out my holiday cards, I am staying up late to finish typing notes. I so want to participate in all the normal holiday festivities and kept help but feel like I am missing out this year.
Now I’m not depressed because of some major tragedy, thank God. I just got a little caught up in feeling over worked and stressed, and fell into an episode of the “poor me’s.” I decided that a week of feeling like this was enough and knew that it was time to do some work to shift my perspective. So if you are feeling like me and are just having a hard time getting into the spirit this year, here are 5 steps that can help shift your energy this holiday season.
1. Listen to Christmas Carols: I know this seems strange and counterintuitive. If you are feeling down about the holidays why would you want to listen to Christmas Carols? Because music can have a profound impact on the state of our mind. And even the most ridiculous Christmas carol can put a smile on your face despite yourself. I was resistant to this myself. I have tons of Christmas albums but thought that listening to them would just make me more sad. But I was wrong, it totally lifted my spirits and my energy. Please don’t listen to those sad sappy songs like Christmas Shoes or Miss You Most At Christmas Time. Listen to the ones that make you laugh and smile, and remind you of being a kid again. The songs that bring out that old holiday spirit you use to have before you grew up and life got so complicated.
2. Indulge in some Holiday Treats: One of things that was getting me down this year was that I didn’t have the time to bake my usual batch of Christmas cookies. Before graduate school started I use to make a slew of cookies for the holidays. And not to brag, but I’m quite the baker and made some delicious treats. I use to love to bring them into work and share them with my co-workers and friends. And while the lack of bonding time with my Kitchen Aid made me sad this year, I realized that just because I don’t have time to bake cookies doesn’t mean I can’t still enjoy them. Thank you to Whole Foods and Trader Joes for making some delicious seasonal treats this year. I’ve been enjoying little daily bites of peppermint bark and candied walnuts. One of the best parts about the holidays is that you have all these seasonal products in the store. I find that a little taste of the season definitely brightens my day and lifts my mood. So go ahead and let yourself indulge in the Egg Nog, the Gingersnaps, and the Pumpkin Spice Latte’s.
3. Decorate a Little: I wasn’t going to decorate at all this year. I thought why should I bother, it just takes a whole lot of time and energy and I won’t have a moment to enjoy it. In fact I think this is the first year I didn’t get a tree. But I decided that I didn’t have to be a total Scrooge! I went to Target and picked up a few chic Christmas decorations to put out. So now there is a touch of holiday cheer when you walk into my apartment. And just those little touches along with my frasier fir candle burning makes me feel a little more in the holiday spirit.
4. Move Your Body: This goes for anytime you’re feeling down, not just for the holidays. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to alleviate depression and de-stress. I know that when I am in a funk I have the choice to stay there or I could go for a run, jump on my rebounder, do some jumping jacks, etc.. Moving literally breaks up all that stagnant energy that’s weighing you down. I can guarantee that if your feeling low a ten minute walk around the block will lighten your mood. Even just turning on your favorite song and dancing for 5 minutes can do wonders. Often when we are depressed it is hard to think our way into a happier state. But when we actually change our physiology our mind naturally changes with it. Don’t believe me? Try smiling for one minute and feeling depressed at the same time. It’s literally impossible for you brain to process depressing thoughts while you are smiling. So get up and get moving!
5. Give: Obviously tis the season of giving, but I’m not talking about presents for your friends and family. I’m referring to donations to your favorite charity. I think we should support charities year round, but it’s an especially nice time during the holidays to go above and beyond our normal tithing amount. While I may not have the time to go shopping and buy gifts for all my loved ones this year. I do have 2 minutes to go to my favorite charities website and paypal some money their way. And lets be honest donating our time or money to a cause makes you feel better. It feels good to know that you are helping out in whatever small way you can. And really isn’t giving what the Christmas spirit is all about?
Most of all be gentle with yourself throughout the holiday season. It can be a stressful and sad time for many. So try to be more compassionate to your fellow man who seems to be down in the dumps these next few weeks. The holidays trigger so many different types of emotions. But it is really meant to be a time to celebrate and be joyful. No matter what your situation is this season try and remember what it felt like when you were a kid. Remember that spark of excitement around Christmas? See if you can get just a glimmer of that spark back, and watch how it lights up your life.
I had a choice to make this year. I could either be resentful and depressed at my situation or I could try and make the best out of it. When I shifted my perspective I realized that while it’s not an “ideal” Christmas for me this year, I still have a lot to celebrate and a lot to be grateful for. Maybe I am missing out on some holiday parties and festivities, but considering the shape of our world right now I am extremely lucky to be able to gather together with my family this Christmas. So lastly, what can you be grateful for this season? What can you celebrate this year? And how can you bring that touch of Christmas magic back into your life?