The holidays are over.
The decorations are put away, guests have gone home, the excitement and buildup are over … and it’s back to “same old, same old”. Maybe your holiday season was filled with the warmth of family and friends. How sad when everyone is gone. Or maybe your holidays were filled with family stress and unhappiness. How sad and empty that feels.
This is a difficult time of the year for many people. Even if you are not, someone you know is probably experiencing PHD: Post Holiday Doldrums. We feel let down, and run down. Maybe our kids and/or partners or we are sick. The long dark, cold blustery days discourage us from going outside, and we lose a sense of purpose. Some people feel genuinely depressed.
As parents, we need to “keep on keepin’ on,” no matter the season. As an old Van Morrison song says: “Gotta get through January, gotta get through February”.
So what are some things we can do to get through the Post Holiday Doldrums?
1. Recognize and acknowledge that you are having a hard time feeling happy, and know that many others feel the same.
2. Be kind to yourself. Once upon a time winter was a quiet time for reflection and togetherness. Families sang and told stories and just hung out with each other. Let go of the inner pressures that tell you to be busy and get things done. You just did lots of that getting ready for the holidays.
3. Take breaks, even if its just taking a bubble bath or spending ½ hour reading a lightweight magazine or novel.
4. Treat yourself to a massage.
5. Keep everyone in the family well nourished. Feeling unhappy lowers your immune system and makes you more susceptible to getting sick. When we’re down we are tempted to go for the sweets and refined carbohydrates, which also contribute to a lowered immune system. Focus on feeding yourself and your family lots of “super foods” – fruits and veggies, good quality protein, whole grains, and nuts.
6. Get enough sleep – this is challenging for moms of babies and toddlers who are waking frequently throughout the night. Know that many other mothers are experiencing the same thing: babies and toddlers wake a lot! If you are anxious about the waking, turn your clock around so you don’t see how little you slept. Your anxiety about the waking makes you way more tired, and makes it harder to fall asleep once babe is settled again. You need your sleep. And sleep is sleep, even if it is interrupted.
7. Probably most important: get outside and get everyone in the family moving! Fresh air and exercise are known to lift your spirits and combat depression. Even though it’s a hassle getting everyone dressed for the outdoors, it’s worth it!
8. If the weather is really too blustery, be sure to give your kids lots of opportunities to be active indoors. Kids need to move no matter what, and they get restless and cranky if they can’t. Put on music, dance around together or form a marching band. Play games that involve lots of jumping. Build indoor obstacle courses with pillows and chairs.
9. Talk to your friends and family often so you feel connected. Facebook and email are great, but a real human voice is more comforting and allows for a deeper, more spontaneous communication – and you don’t have to worry about spelling!
10. If you are feeling down all the time, and nothing seems to make you feel better, you may be experiencing real depression and may need help. You deserve to feel well and your children need you to be well. Talk to your doctor or other health practitioner and get the help you need.
Although this is a hard time of the year, try to see the beauty of the season and show your kids that you can love and appreciate life year round.