I know there are historical reasons as to why exactly the holidays happen at this time of the year, but sometimes I just wonder if this is the universe's way to throw one more challenge at us. Fall and winter are tough on us all as is, with shorter days and long dark nights, cold temperatures, and not much outside play. Life seems to slow down, yet, we find we often don't have enough time to get it all done. That scale seems to go up then down constantly (or maybe just up this time!), and, suddenly, we all seem to turn a bit more grouchy.
We try to escape our misery by turning on the TV or radio, and we're blasted away with holiday music, bright red and gold colors flying from every corner, all kinds of gift ideas for every person in our lives, and, to top it all, Hallmark movies remind us all of intact families having the greatest holidays of them all. Suddenly, we start panicking about gift lists requiring money we don't have, family time involving Leave it to Beaver families we don't have, romance ideas with no prince or princess to romance us, and even yearn for pets the allergist warned us about. We drag ourselves to bed (or maybe to the bar?), grumbling and feeling about as lonely and pathetic as Scrooge might have been.
And that's what makes me think that perhaps this holiday thing is all about another challenge thrown our way. Perhaps it’s meant to be another opportunity for us to shine while working through it all. If you look around, you’ll find tons of books or websites reminding you of many ways to beat the winter blues and truly enjoy the colors of the season. Here are some quick ways:
Throughout the day, look around you for the things you use on a regular day that can easily be taken for granted. We often forget to remind ourselves of our many privileges, and miss out on experiencing gratitude. Notice these items, and take a moment to take it all in, perhaps consider what it took to make it, or just simply notice the colors, texture, or its purpose. When was the last time you noticed and appreciated your comfy furniture or the privacy your curtains give you? And what about that can opener, what would life be without it? Let’s not forget the coffee maker or tea kettle, and that sliced bread is pretty amazing, too!
Notice the benefits of the season, things that are usually much more enjoyable at this time of the year. That nice sweater or fleece you love to feel on your body, the snuggling blanket while you’re watching TV or sitting by the fire, the smell of that steaming cup of soup or cocoa, the bright and playful lights covering the neighborhood. Notice them, take them in, and be thankful that you’re able to partake in all the little details that come along with the season.
Give the best gift of them all: you. Yes, you and your full attention can warm a lot of people’s hearts and bring a lot of laughter in your life. Every day, make it a point to notice those around you, and exchange at least a few quality moments, if not more. Make eye contact with a stranger on the street, smile at the store greeter, chit chat with a co-worker, and focus on them, giving them a compliment or letting them know you’ve appreciated something about them. Make it a point to spend time with your partner, parents, children or other important people in your life; play a game, eat together, play in the snow. And if you have it within you, reach out in the community and volunteer at the local library, shelter, or food bank. You are much needed, much more than you are giving yourself credit for.
Of course, there are many, many options: watching your diet, adding seasonal supplements, exercising regularly, spending time outdoors. Search for the options that best suit you and your needs; then pick one, maybe even two, try it out once or twice, stick with it if you need to. Do your best with it, see if you can get something out of it; besides, even just by trying it out you've accomplished something you can be proud of. Just do something, it's the quickest way to cure the “I’m just sitting around doing nothing but feeling miserable” time.