Tips on Surviving and Thriving During This Festive (Yet Hectic) Time of the Year
We all have been there: a tad of moodiness, self-pity, depressive feelings, frustration, and a case of ‘blah’. I’m talking about mild symptoms, not a serious case of depression or genuine mental illness. Many get “The Blues” at this time of year: Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
As the days get colder and shorter, there is potentially more indoor alone time and less sunshine influences us. This can bring on a certain melancholy for people, especially those who have negative mindset tendencies by nature. I happen to be one of those people, so this is about me.
I’m a serious type, on the outside social and love to joke, but on the inside, my thoughts run as deep as Lake Tahoe. I think. A lot. About the meaning of life, if love even exists, and about all the injustices happening around the world. I was always like that, tough on the outside but sensitive on the inside. No surprise that I also like to read and write poetry and listen to sad love songs.
Every December, come what may, I bounce between the euphoric high of the holiday spirit and an epic low of Christmas blues. Without fail. For years. Luckily, the excitement of preparing for the holidays combined with increased socializing is a good distractor. I like staying busy and especially the feeling of being productive. But not always. December brings days when doing anything at all can feel like an uphill battle. I just want to cocoon indoors, listen to classical Christmas songs, and read.
Identify the Reason for The Blues
There are many reasons. A few I can think of are:
Many are missing deceased family members, their family is dispersed so can’t be together for the holidays, or they are alone. It is especially tough if it is the first holiday without a certain loved one.
The holidays is a time for splurges but not everyone had a good year. Many are broke around the holidays and this can be highly frustrating.
This is often both physical and mental. The end of the year means you have been working for twelve months. You may just really need a break.
If things aren’t going as well as you’d like with your love life or other closest relationships (parents, kids, best friends, or key people at work), this may be stressing you and lead to a tad of depression.
Is there something eating away at you that you know you must do but are putting off? Even a little thing can lead to major mood issues. Get on with it!
Boredom is not the same is idleness. You can have a very busy life that bores you to no end. To thrive in life, one must have a certain degree of inspiration and novelty.
This is a great time to journal, meditate, and reflect on your life. In this way, you can assess if you are living in the way you imagined. To guide you, I love to use the following three questions. Bonus: Do this every year and you can look up your answers from previous years to see yourself changing.
1. Start with the big, scary question “Am I happy?” Listen to your heart and be honest. This is a simple question, and you should answer it spontaneously and without justification or judgment. Bonus: Ask your spouse or partner. Listen openly to their answer. This could deepen not only your sense of personal fulfillment but strengthen your couple too.
2. Next question is “What do I have in my life to be grateful for?” I used to be highly self-critical. I was always focused on achievement that I forgot to appreciate what I have. Until I started asking myself this question regularly.
3. Last question is “What is missing from my life?” Write down the areas that you would like to improve in. This is a process and can sometimes take weeks or even months. You may want to work with a coach or mentor on this one. The best part is if you can get to the answer: “Nothing, my life is complete.”
Re-Commit To Your Priorities
We often know our priorities, yet life can cause us to ‘drift’. Here are a few examples:
Career: Everyone I’ve ever coached has assured me they truly want success yet when we take a closer look, frequently people are not doing much or doing the wrong things towards their career or business growth.
Parenting: You say your kids are important, yet you find yourself not really spending much quality time with them.
Significant Other: You love your spouse but are you committing time to be romantic, complimenting them, and spoiling them? Or if you are single, how seriously are you working on finding the right one?
Health: If anyone asks, you’ll confirm you want to be healthy yet if you are honest, your diet, exercise, and sleep could use some work.
Finances: People say one thing and do exactly the opposite! I see this one all the time.
The list goes on, but you can probably find at least one of the above scenarios to relate to. This may secretly be frustrating you. Your subconscious may be thinking about all these priorities, and misalignment in your actions is causing grief. The end of the year is a great time to re-align your values with your ongoing efforts. It is never too late!
Define SMART Goals Combined with an Action Plan
I know you hear this one right and left, but what the heck is it really? As a coach, I can assure you that almost everyone chases short-term goals, but almost no one follows through with their goals all the way long-term. The scenarios are different, but the reason is always the same: fear. Deep down, we are terrified of success and failure. If we succeed, we will be in new, uncharted territory and that is deeply concerning, especially to those who rarely leave their comfort zone. If we fail, well, we fail, and it is the end of the world. This is the best reason to work with a coach or mentor to get accountability and do mindset work.
I designed a course for goal setting because it is that important. Smart goals aren’t enough. You must work on your weekly planning and organization, so your goals translate into consistent, structured daily actions. Following through towards clear goals will give you a sense of purpose and strengthen your pride in yourself. Then your courage will grow and success will change from scary to empowering.
Do Good As Often As Possible
It is difficult to be depressed or uninspired when you are helping others. There is something deeply nourishing and healing about volunteer work, random acts of kindness, and general good Samaritan efforts. Seeing the joy you can bring to others is the best ‘high’ I know. Find an activity or two to direct your efforts towards this month, and you will see that I am right.
Seek Out the Light
One day my mentor asked “What brings you joy?” so I went off to journal on it and before long, I realized I’ve written an entire book to answer! Now I’d like to gift it to you in the hopes that it will inspire you to do the same. The truth is that instead of complaining, we can all be the light. Surround yourself with the things and people that bring you joy and this happiness will grow and spread to others, creating a positive domino effect. After all, how can anyone stay unhappy for long if they are submerged in goodness?
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett
To summarize, there is plenty one can do to combat the holiday blahs and blues. This is the season for joy, love, abundance, kindness, and renewal. Try out a few of my tips or design some of your own so that you can truly make December your favorite time of the year, minus the frazzle.