I’ve already written how to survive the holidays without losing your mind. Now that the holidays are over and the year is drawing to a close, other emotions arise that can dissolve our happiness, peace and serenity. Post-holiday blues, anyone?
Most of us don’t have a lot of family nearby to spend holidays with – children move away, parents retire to some place warm (except my parents didn’t do this – insanity runs in the family – I was the one who moved to Florida). It costs a mint to fly to and from Florida in December because of blackout dates and the fact that EVERYBODY wants to fly to Florida in December.
But I digress. After the holidays there’s a kind of letdown for many of us. And if you’re blessed with depression, it’s particularly acute. For me, there’s memories of family members who have passed away, a mother with Alzheimer’s disease, children all grown up and busy with their own lives. It can be quite a lonely and sad time.
Compounding this for me are the end-of-the-year tributes to celebrities from movies, theatre and world history who have passed away. I’m a great fan of classic movies, and I consider these celebrities friends – people I like spending time with as I watch them bring stories to life on screen. As the tributes play, there are some stars I’d never heard of and some I’d nearly forgotten. But I acknowledge that all of them, in their artistry, left a little piece of themselves with us, maybe even changed us.
The point I’m coming to is this: all of the above thinking consists of looking backward, visiting memories and realizing losses. However, we can try and turn it around by embracing these memories and experiences because they are part of who we are today.
All the emotions we feel – the joy, sorrow, confusion or what-have-you – these emotions are contained in our cells, our DNA. We can change our sadness, regret, despair to wonder, appreciation and gratitude for the fact that these experiences and stories expanded our lives, increased our depth of understanding and opened our world view a little wider.
No one is really gone from this world, each person’s spirit lives on in us and all who remember them.
So you’re saying we should look forward to 2018, New Year’s Resolutions and all that garbage?
Well, no, not if you’re going to look at it that way.
Take the first week of the year. Select and write down one thing to get done – thank you notes? A phone call to an old friend – chances are they’re feeling lonely too if their holiday festivities are over.
Clean up the mess made by holiday preparations – it’ll make you feel better. Stow the wrapping paper, put the scissors and the tape back where they belong, break down the shipping boxes accumulating in the garage. (Stomping them into flats for the recycle bin can be great therapy!) Then reward yourself – sit down and watch a favorite movie, find a good book, treat yourself in some way, congratulate yourself for your efforts.
If you’ve decorated your house for Christmas, sit down now and drink in your efforts – the beautiful tree, the twinkle lights, the wreath, the crèche, wall hangings. Why shouldn’t the one who designed it get to enjoy it?
Pick up a new calendar for 2018 in a design that makes you smile. Write down important dates for the first couple of months unless you want to go further. There’s a sense of purpose and vitality in a new calendar.
Sing. Yes, sing. Sing around the house, sing in the shower, sing in the car, sing at the top of your voice, scare the cat – it’s fun and your endorphins will rise!
Most of all, know that there are people out there who love you, even if they are not around anymore. Recreate that love and give it to yourself! And by the way I love you for reading this.
Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!