The few weeks before the end of the year can be exciting as wish lists are crossed off and resolutions are penciled in. Parties with friends and revisiting distant family members are occasions many greet with eager anticipation.
But after all the hoopla has died down and all that’s left is a mountain of wrapping paper, some slightly-used bows, and a withering pine tree, there can be a tendency for some of us to crash and burn emotionally as well as physically.
Even the jolliest of holiday revelers can get the blues so imagine what life is like for average folks or those who spend the December weeks in solitude, without much, if any, cheerful company.
The following practical tips can help lighten your mood and elevate your attitude at any time of the year.
Vanquish the Spector of Loneliness
Not everyone has a special someone to share life’s joyous occasions. Some unfortunate souls have lost a dear family member or close friend. Perhaps news of a sudden illness arrived unexpectedly, dampening the holiday spirit.
Sometimes, it can feel awkward to go to a festivity without a plus-one, especially when nursing another hurt. Feeling alone in a crowd is an experience many people can relate to at some point in their lives.
One great way to fight off loneliness is to make new friends and acquaintances. Join a club or congregation whose members are passionate about your pursuits. Their enthusiasm can be infectious and fill an emotional void within you.
Toastmasters International is an international non-profit network of local clubs with a mission of making us better communicators and leaders. Many clubs welcome guests and the modest dues are an excellent value to learn self-confidence in an uber-safe environment.
If you like to sing, try out for a community chorale or sign up for the church choir. If neither of those is an option, spin up some karaoke tracks from streaming app and belt out some tunes in the privacy of your own home. Singing is a very cleansing activity. It releases pent-up energy in a creative way. So go ahead and make a joyful noise.
The local library can be a great place to volunteer or hang out and read. Strike up a conversation with someone browsing the same section to explore common interests. Who knows? You might meet your next BFF?
Say Buh-Bye to Ghosts of Holidays Past
Holidays are steeped in family traditions for many of us. Some decorate their homes with the same ornaments their parents – and perhaps even their parents – used. Grandma’s sweet potato pie is a favorite because the smell of it conjures up feelings of love and acceptance.
After a divorce or when the kids have grown up and left home, thoughts of Decembers past may weigh heavily rather than buoy up. Unpleasant memories may be stirred by a movie you used to watch together or even a set of reindeer hand towels that had been a cherished gift.
Dispel those stressors by tossing the towels (or donating them to a charitable thrift store) and starting new traditions. If the house where you used to hang the stockings with care is upsetting with its one rumpled sock dangling from the fireplace mantel, take a mini-vacation. Treat yourself to a hotel room or visit a friend for a few days.
Rearranging the furniture, adding and subtracting a few pieces along the way, is another technique that can help break unhappy associations at home. Giving unwanted and unneeded items away is highly therapeutic and creates space for new acquisitions in your life.
Prevent Future Post-Party Regrets
The hearty partyers may also wind up the year nursing a hangover and feeling remorseful. It can be discouraging to step on the scale and see the proof that candy and pies are fattening. All those get-togethers can really cut into the old workout schedule, too.
Head regrets off at the pass by setting limits on how much you will eat and drink before confronting temptation. Stick to your guns and you’ll be proud of yourself.
Get plenty of restful sleep and regular exercise. Plugin some groovy tunes over your headphones and take a walk once or twice a day. A brisk 10-minute walk will boost your heart rate, releasing mood-heightening endorphins.
Master the art of polite refusal when asked to overachieve or take on too many obligations during the holidays (or any other time). A simple “No, thank you,” can go a long way to keeping a reasonable schedule and warding off burnout from trying to accept too many requests for your time and energy. Don’t feel obligated to explain – just say you don’t feel up to the occasion.
If you are on a weight-loss regime, discover fun activities that don’t involve food. Likewise, if you want to get more fit, find workout videos and a buddy to keep you motivated and accountable.
Depression is linked to chemical changes in the brain and body that exercise and group interaction can help balance. Giving aid to others, particularly those less fortunate, is one of the best ways to beat the blues. If you like animals, volunteer at the shelter.
One trick to living a good life is to appreciate every moment and take little for granted. Express gratitude by being kind to others. Celebrate the small triumphs along with the grandiose. Pat yourself on the back for being the best “you” you could have been today.
Above all, surround yourself with other positive people. Then, when the blues come calling, your friendship network can come to the rescue. Buh-bye, blues.