When the glitter settles and the holidays bustle is finally over, many of us sink into sadness and feel blue and let down. Whether the causes lie inside, outside, or both, you can take a deep breath, refuse to feel bad, and get serious about taking control of your life and your emotions. Here are 10 proven strategies that will help you beat the blues and get your life back on a happy track.
- Grieve the loss. If past losses have caused your holiday blues, take time to finish grieving over your loss. It’s important to feel the sadness and grief and get clear about the reality of the loss. With acceptance, the intensity of the blues will lessen and a normal pleasure in life will return.
- Seek serenity. Many losses can be addressed through the principles of the Serenity Prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Learning to identify which is which is a key to happiness after the holidays and all year round.
- Practice self-forgiveness. Repeat these messages:
- “I deserve to be happy.”
- “I am lovable.”
- “I am valuable.”
- Stop obsessive thinking. Thoughts such as “I didn’t do it right, my gifts were lousy gifts, I said the wrong thing, it’s my fault, I woulda-shoulda-coulda,” can be stopped with a strategy of prayer or meditation.
- Avoid the ambush. Do not get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired, which can lead to poor judgment, bad decisions and regret. Stay away from substances and behaviors often used to numb pain, including alcohol, excessive spending or sexual relationships.
- Flee toxic people. Stay away even (or especially) if they are relatives. Increase time with people and environments of calm and good humor. Let go of resentments related to holidays past and declare an amnesty in family feuds.
- Take off the target. Some people’s families are downright predatory, turning as a group against one member. Being the target feels terrible, but don’t give credence to the criticism. Bring it into perspective by making a list of who was the target at the last six family gatherings.
- Practice extreme self-care. Manage stress by getting back to a normal routine as quickly as possible. Restore a balance of sleep, healthy eating, exercise and other activities. Exercise reduces anxiety and depression, so claim time for aerobic exercise, yoga, massage, spiritual practices or other calming activities.
- Reach out to other people. The blues naturally make a person withdraw, instead seek out friendly nonjudgmental company.
- Volunteer. Helping someone in need will highlight the many reasons a person has for feeling gratitude despite the pain.
Is It More Than The Blues?
Depression can have many different causes and help is available. Please consult a mental health professional if three of these symptoms of real depression last more than a couple of weeks:
- Change in appetite or weight
- Dulled emotions, irritability, explosive anger
- No enjoyment for usual activities
- Change in sleep habits
- Lack of energy
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Social withdrawal
- Suicidal thoughts or gestures
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Low self-esteem
- Unresolved grief issues
- Hallucinations or delusions
Thoughts of suicide should never be taken lightly. Instead, dial 911 in the USA or Canada or go to a hospital emergency room.
Know that happiness is your choice to make. Focusing on loss and regret brings sorrow; focusing on gratitude and hope brings joy. Use your gratitude journal to get you started. Write down six things at the end of the day you are grateful for. You can start small and build from there. You’ll find when you turn the page and start being grateful for what you have that’s healthy and supports your happiness, more things, people, activities come your way.