I love the holidays, especially cuddling up by the fire with the lights of the Christmas tree glowing in the background, as well as opening presents with the ones I love. These are all special moments of the holiday season. But once the season is over and all the decorations have been taken down, I get a sadness in my heart. We exit from a season of the wonder of Christmas and enter the bleak doldrums of January. If you are like me, you might feel a little blue, too. But January, as dark as it can be, can hold with it new possibilities as we begin a new year.
Here are six steps to beating the holiday post-holiday blues:
1. Make Reasonable Goals
January is known as the month when we set goals for our lives and make resolutions toward a better, more productive life. January can also bring a sense of failure if, by the end of the month, we haven't accomplished the goals we set for ourselves. Instead of making lofty goals with no deadlines or incentives to complete them, make reasonable goals instead. Mix your goals with ones that will cause you to stretch and grow along with other manageable goals. This way, you can achieve a sense of accomplishment with some of the easier goals this year while reaching for the loftier ones.
2. Set New Boundaries
An additional way to fuel that holiday sadness is if you continue to have toxic relationships in your life. While you cannot change a toxic person, you can change your reaction to them. Setting healthy boundaries is a good, biblical way to be unaffected by a person’s toxicity yet make space for healthy relationships instead. The book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend is a great resource to discover how to create good boundaries in a way that keeps people in your life but doesn't allow them to inflict upon you emotional or relational pain. People who struggle with control will make you believe that boundaries are not a good thing. However, they are a healthy way for you to achieve emotional freedom and relate in a positive way toward others while still loving yourself in the process.
3. Exercise More
Our bodies were meant to move. But in the sedentary world we live in, it is easy not to move our bodies effectively to achieve optimal weight and health. Resolve to move your body at least sixty minutes per day. It does not need to be sixty consecutive minutes to achieve this goal. Get up a half-hour earlier in the morning and go to the gym or take a walk outside. When the body exercises, the brain releases endorphins which create a temporary high. This will boost your mood and increase your physical health. Start with thirty minutes a day and move up to sixty if you can. Take baby steps, and don't create an unachievable goal. If you create a goal you cannot complete, you'll be tempted to quit altogether. The purpose of movement is not winning or losing but rather valuing yourself enough to reap the physical, emotional, and spiritual health benefits of exercise.
4. Take a Supplement
Although we do our best to eat right, our western diets prohibit us from getting all our nutrients strictly from food. We are lucky to live in a society where we can take a vitamin supplement in addition to eating healthy so our bodies can receive the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly. Not only is it good for your overall health, but studies have shown some mental health illnesses such as anxiety can be caused by a lack of vitamin D or magnesium. Taking an additional supplement in these areas may boost your mood and help lift that post-holiday blues feeling.
Taking a supplement does not always have to be in pill form. If taking a pill is not palpable to you, buy a protein shake mix. Place one scoop in with milk or water, shake and drink. Those protein shakes will provide you with most of the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need to function throughout the day. There are also magnesium therapies, light therapies, and other modalities that can be used to help get those vitamins into your system.
*Talk with your doctor before beginning supplements, shakes, or additional therapies to ensure both wellness and safety.
5. Get a Hobby
You may rejoice in getting up every day and going to a job you love. But what happens after a long, exhausting week? It is important to have something to look forward to during your free time to stimulate your brain and fuel your passion. If you are artistic, try to learn a new craft that allows you to have a creative outlet. YouTube is a great place to learn how to crochet, knit, do needlepoint, etc. Painting or drawing can also be a great way to unwind after a long day and give the world beautiful art. Since God allowed his people to be part of the creative process, being creative can also be part of your worship experience.
If you are not artistic, reflect on the things you love the most. Do you like collecting things? Do you like the outdoors? Do you like giving back to your community? Figure out what it is that you love to do and do it! If COVID has taught us anything it's that life is short. Once you have devoted most of your time to work and worship, there's nothing wrong with enjoying a healthy hobby to re-focus your mind, relax your body, and fuel your passion to give back to the world around you.
6. Put God First
Above all, put God first in your life. So often, we go through our day checking off our to-do list and setting and achieving goals to improve our lives. But where does God fit in all this? Have you asked what he wants for your life? There is no better place to be than in the center of God's will. If you are lagging in your Scripture reading or prayer time, make a point to spend quiet time with God each day. It can be early in the morning or during your nighttime routine. Do what works for you. Seek the Lord and ask his will for your life for this new year. Sometimes the reason why we feel blue is because we're looking to a holiday season to make us feel special when the reality is God already thinks we are! Take time in silence to listen for God and be in tune with what he's saying to you. Being in tune with the Holy Spirit is the best way to beat post-holiday blues because we are in communion and conversation with the Almighty God.
The holidays may be behind us, but Scripture is clear it is not good to dwell on the past. Instead, we are to look to the new things God is doing in our lives and the lives of others. By making changes to your overall health, allowing yourself a hobby to fuel your passion, and discerning God's will for your life, you can look upon the new year with hope in anticipation of what God is about to do.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Drazen Zigic
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.