How to Beat the Post-Christmas Blues

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Photo by Kate Williams/Unsplash

After all the wrapping paper, bows and decorations are put away, all the big holiday meals a thing of the past, and the thought of all the credit card bills coming due to pay for everything, if you’re feeling a bit low, you’re not alone. The post-Christmas blues affects everyone in different ways, but it does seem to be hard to escape.

It doesn’t have to linger, though, and here are some tips on how to put the post-Christmas blues behind you.

Take Everything Back at Once

Why torment yourself with thoughts of several days’ worth of trudging back to the store to use up gift cards, return or exchange unwanted, wrong size, color, design or whatever items after Christmas? Instead, get it all over at once by taking everything back on a single day. If this isn’t the day after Christmas when everyone else is doing the same thing, you’re likely to accomplish what you need and put that task behind you.

Spend Less Time on Social Media and More Face-to-Face with Friends

While social media makes it ever so easy to connect with friends, when you’re feeling blue after a big holiday like Christmas, it makes better sense to engage in real-time interaction with your pals than using Facebook, Twitter or some other social media network. Connecting this way also helps rid you of lingering disappointment that the holidays are over, creates tangible feelings of well-being, and reminds you that we’re all in this together.

Eat Better, Sleep Well and Exercise More

No doubt your diet suffered during the holidays along with getting less sleep than you should and foregoing the gym or your daily walk. Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to get back to your healthy routine – or begin one, if you haven’t before. Stop unhealthy snacking and gorging yourself like it’s your last meal (it’s not). Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals at appropriate times. Get a good 8 hours sleep each night, and remove electronic devices from the bedroom so they don’t tempt you to catch up on messages, emails, etc., and carve out at least 15-20 minutes daily for some sort of vigorous exercise. Even a short walk outside will help eradicate the post-Christmas blues.

Start a New Project

There’s nothing better to take your mind off what’s bothering you, including post-holiday sadness, than diving into a new project. Whether it’s repainting the living room, poring through catalogs for spring bulbs, creating plans for an addition, shopping for new appliances, doing research for a new or replacement vehicle, gathering information on going back to school, the process of involving yourself in a new project not only occupies your time, it also lifts your mood, gives you something to look forward to, and is a healthy way to live.

Stay Busy

Does it seem like there’s a void now that all the relatives and friends have gone, you’re back at work or left alone at home while others are off tending to everyday things? While the hours slowly grind away, there’s much too much time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself or allow sad thoughts to intrude even while you’re halfheartedly trying to work. Here the recommendation is to stay busy, to have another task or assignment or chore to go to on your to-do list. This way, there’s no down-time, no time to dwell on emotional lows. By staying busy, you’re being focused and acting. This passes the time and helps you be more productive, both of which can reduce feelings of sadness.

Be Grateful

When you wake up each morning, take a few minutes to reflect on all the things you’re grateful for in life. While you might automatically start to think about how sad you feel, acknowledge the emotion and then think how fortunate you are to be alive. Your troubles aren’t so great, no matter what they are, that you don’t have things to be grateful for. These include family, friends, a job, a home to live in, your health, and so on. Gratitude is one of the most effective ways to dispel the post-Christmas blues.

Do Something for Others

It doesn’t take much time out of your day, or much effort, for that matter, to do something for others. If you know of someone who’s ill and house-bound, for example, give them a call or stop by for a visit to help lift their spirits and give them the opportunity for real-time social interaction. Back to those unwanted, wrong size, color, etc. gifts, consider donating them to those in need. There are many individuals who won’t at all mind wearing an oversized shirt or ugly Christmas sweater or plaid pair of pants or hot pink sneakers. Both you and the recipient get something good out of it.

Plan Something Special

Another way to get your mind off being blue is to begin planning something special. This might be a night out with your loved one, a day at the spa to treat yourself, creating a romantic dinner or working on plans for summer vacation. When you’re planning, you’re being forward-thinking and taking concrete steps to make the plans reality.

Take a Short Trip

Why not get away for a while? Even a short trip, such as a day trip, can work wonders to drive away the blues and get you back on an even emotional state. A weekend trip might be more appropriate, but with holiday expenses eating up a chunk of the budget, a shorter day trip might better serve your purposes. Go with a friend or loved one to maximize your enjoyment of the excursion. You might even be able to use a gift card you received at Christmas.

Pursue an Interest

There must be something in your life you’ve put off, thinking you didn’t have the time, energy or resources to pursue. Maybe now is the perfect time to delve into that interest. See if there’s some way to make room for it in your life. Surely, if something is important to you, you’ve dreamt about it or had it on your wish list for some time, it’s worth taking a serious look at. Besides, this is an excellent way to jumpstart motivation, lift your spirits and put the post-Christmas blues in the past.

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Related articles:

5 Ways to Find Peace of Mind

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

Are You Lonely Tonight? How to Combat Loneliness

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10 Quick Ways to Take a Much-Needed Break

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Photo by Lindsay Henwood/Unsplash

“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” – Jill Bolte Taylor

 

Grabbing lunch on the run, trying to multitask while glancing at the clock, staring with dread at the mountain of reports yet to go through – no wonder you’re frazzled, anxious, feel the tension rising – and it’s only mid-day. You need a break. Better yet, you owe it to yourself to take a break.

Maybe you think you don’t have time for it, but you can reward yourself – and considerably damp down your stress level – by making use of these 10 quick ways to take a much-needed break.

Take the long way to the next meeting.

Better yet, take the stairs. Walk fast or slow, whatever you choose, but do give yourself the time to get in a bit of aerobic exercise from walking. Be sure to take some deep breaths along the way. Getting oxygen into your lungs lowers blood pressure, eases anxiety, improves mood and clears your mind.

Sip a full glass of water.

Besides hydrating your body, slowly drinking 8 ounces of water gives you time to hit the pause button on whatever else you’re trying to get done. It’s not so much that you’re avoiding responsibilities as that you’re doing something incredibly positive for your own well-being. Aim to do this several times during the day for added benefit (and greater peace of mind).

Cup your eyes.

This simple exercise is one you can do anywhere. Cup your hands over your eyes so there’s no light coming through. Open your eyes and hold your hands in place for at least 1 minute, longer if possible. Allow your eyes to become accustomed to the dark, feeling the peace inside. After you’ve counted to 60 or however long you want the break to last, take your hands away. Your eyes will feel refreshed and so will you.

Gaze at nature wallpaper.

If you spend a lot of time at the computer, this is a break that’s a no-brainer. Download and install a breathtakingly beautiful screenshot of nature: mountains, river, forests, water, flowers, birds, whatever draws you in. You can even customize a rotating set of views to keep your interest level high. As you gaze at the wallpaper or photo display, let your mind take you there. This works especially well if the shot is a place you enjoy visiting or want to spend time in soon or someday.

Pick a bouquet.

If you have a flower garden available, take a few minutes to gather a bouquet. Even if it’s a single flower, spend a few minutes taking in the intricacies of a rose, an iris, chrysanthemum or other blooming beauty.

Daydream.

This suggestion is a personal favorite. When everything mounts up and I need to catch my breath, musing about things I’d like to do, places I want to go and people I anticipate spending time with or projects or goals on my wish list helps me transport myself away from the current hustle and bustle and off somewhere enticing. Best of all, daydreaming doesn’t cost a cent, can be done anywhere (except when driving or operating machinery), and may motivate action.

Go for a brisk walk.

This break takes a little longer than a leisurely stroll to the next meeting. The best way to get exercise and give yourself some time away from the grind is to mosey outside and get in a brisk walk. Aim for 10-15 minutes at the least and use the time to see what’s going on around you. This means you’re not checking your smartphone or thinking about what’s next on your to-do list. Be in the present. Enjoy the outdoors.

Light a scented candle.

Unless you’re allergic, the recommendation to light up a fragrant candle can help elevate your mood, change the dynamics of your cubicle, work space, home or study. There’s something mesmerizing about staring at the flickering flame as well that does wonders to put some space between tasks.

Indulge in a leisurely bath.

OK, so you can’t do this one at the office. But you can allocate some much-needed time for relaxation at home. Use Epsom salts to ease muscle tension or soothing oils or bath salts in a bubble bath.

Limber up with a few stretches.

Sitting at a desk or behind the wheel for long periods of time wreaks havoc on the body. An aching neck, sore back, tight leg muscles and other body parts that clamor for relief can get it with a few sensible stretches. Not only will you get out the kinks, you’ll probably have better posture after regular stretching.

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Related articles:

10 Ways Stress Harms You

Combat Stress with Mindful Walking

5 Ways to Find Peace of Mind

10 Quick Ways to Beat Stress

Self-Care: The Most Important Person to Take Care of Is You

10 Tips to Decrease Work Stress

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How To Be Flexible With Your Perceptions

Photo by Anders Jildén/Unsplash

Photo by Anders Jildén/Unsplash

 

“When we become fixed in our perceptions we lose our ability to fly.” – Mingyur Rinpoche

 

How a person looks at the world colors all subsequent action. If the way immediately ahead appears dark and scary, timidity and reluctance to act are the likely results. Being able to discern light amidst the darkness, however, can prove to be a motivating factor – at least to the extent that you’re willing to try something new or different.

What happens when you regard life and the world around you as hopeless, miserable, one failure after another, untrustworthy, unlovable and unloved? You might find yourself retreating from others, holing up in isolation, drinking or drugging too much. You most certainly won’t want to embark on a challenging project, pursue adventure, or dare to discover what you’re truly made of.

Indeed, if your perception remains fixed, so will your horizon. Instead of expanding, the options available to you will appear limited, possibly pointless and a waste of time.

So much for the ability to fly.

On the other hand, if you’re willing to stand up to first impressions and attempt to see the other side, there’s hope that you can move forward – no matter what obstacles you encounter. It won’t be easy to try to glean some insight that isn’t readily apparent and it may not happen every time. Still, the effort is worth it if the result is that you can bypass the logjam where preconceived notions have held you captive. You want to be able to act, not stagnate doing nothing.

How do you become flexible with your perceptions? Is there some trick to this that you can master? As with anything that’s challenging, scary or new, a multi-pronged approach is generally the best one. Be sure to include the following:

  • Recognize that there is always another way to look at things. There is no one way and situations are never totally negative – no matter how they appear at first.

 

  • Be willing to change your point of view in the presence of new information. Even be willing to explore opposite viewpoints with the hope of learning something new. Whether you ultimately change your outlook or not, you’re exercising flexibility instead of remaining rigid and fixed in your perceptions.

 

  • Engage in brainstorming. Coming up with alternate solutions is an exercise in creativity. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your total approach will change, but it may result in a modification or revision of a plan that will culminate in success.

 

  • Study what worked well for others. Undoubtedly, this isn’t the first time such a wall has appeared before you. Others have probably experienced something similar. By reviewing the solutions that worked for someone you know or read about, you might learn a thing or two that will help you modify your own perspective – and arrive at some answers applicable to your situation.

 

  • Never give up. Maybe it seems too difficult to be open and flexible with your perceptions. That’s OK. Just give it time. Acknowledge the challenge and keep on trying to see things in another light. Determination and persistence will help you adopt the ability to be flexible. Think of it as a bird’s fledgling attempts to fly. The winged creature doesn’t succeed the first time out, but with time and practice, the act becomes second nature.

 

  • Flexibility is like a muscle: exercise it. The more you practice being flexible, the easier it gets. This applies as much to perceptions as toning muscles on your body. Get into the habit of keeping a flexible, open mind and your perceptions will change.

Keep in mind that the life you want to live depends on having the courage and willingness to embrace change, to challenge yourself to do more, and to let go of outdated beliefs and perceptions. The potential benefits to doing so are incalculable. It’s up to you to decide how you want to live.

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7 Tips to Use Time Wisely

Photo by Andy Chilton/Unsplash

Photo by Andy Chilton/Unsplash

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” – William Penn

 

While we know that time is precious and a scarce resource, at that, how often do we find ourselves wasting what little time we do have? Frittering away hours at the computer, playing video games, watching endless hours of TV, and any number of other voracious time-wasting activities can leave you feeling edgy, restless and incomplete.

For good reason, since nothing good comes from deliberate squandering of time.

This isn’t the same as when you make a conscious choice to engage in a hobby or pastime or recreational or leisure activity. Everyone needs time to play, to rest and recharge, and to gain a new perspective on life. Play time helps lower stress levels, eases tension, and provides the opportunity to see things clearer and without distraction. Solutions come easier after taking the time to play.

But time that you waste? That’s just gone for good. The question becomes, how do you use time wisely? What tricks or tips can help? Here are a few to consider:

  1. Jot it down.

Go through your day in your mind and jot down everything you did, noting when you did it, how long it took, and what the result was. This exercise helps to identify time wasted.

  1. Analyze wasted time.

Next, analyze those times you wasted. What was it you were doing immediately before or after? Try to determine if you needed a break from something strenuous, complex or time-consuming or if you were avoiding the next thing on your to-do list. This analysis helps to narrow down instances where you choose wasting time over taking constructive action.

  1. List must-do items or tasks.

Make a separate list of things that are must-do items. This list can be for today or things you must do daily. This may include getting up and going to work, preparing dinner for the family, taking medications or vitamins, walking the dog, taking out the trash and so on. Are there things you do that you could streamline or make easier? Could you combine some so that you’re not repeating ground? For example, set the medications or vitamins alongside your breakfast so that you take them right after (or before) you eat. Take out the trash when it’s time to walk the dog.

  1. Prioritize what must get done.

Staring at a list of must-to items won’t get them done. Put them in order of importance. This helps in rearranging your schedule to accommodate what must be done. For example, that big project that’s due at work should take priority, or the boss needs an update every morning at a certain time. Nothing should be allowed to get in the way of taking care of high-priority items.

  1. Schedule a break.

Build in some slack time. This can be a 10-minute break in the morning and afternoon to go for a quick walk or grab a coffee or chat with your neighbor or co-worker. Getting up to stretch your legs puts a period at the end of what you were doing and is a nice transition from one activity to another.

  1. Add variety.

Vary your schedule. If you find that your biggest time wasters are because a lot of what you’re doing every day is boring or repetitive, jazz it up by allocating different days for different tasks. When you know you’ve got an hour on Wednesday to go bowling or have lunch with a friend, other items on your task list won’t seem so challenging. Variety also adds spice to life.

  1. Be present.

Be in the moment. Instead of always thinking you don’t have enough time, savor the present moment. Whatever you’re doing, whether it’s a task or something you enjoy, really be there. This adds to the appreciation of time, that precious commodity.

Related Articles:

10 Ways to Make Mondays Better

Time-Saving Tips for Early Risers

How to Be Even More Effective

My 10 Favorite Ways to Waste Time – And Not Feel Bad About It

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