Even though Christmas carols hail it as “the best time of the year,” the holiday season is difficult for many. Dreary days and early nights leave us inside to sulk, causing seasonal affective disorder flare ups. For those who work in retail, the holidays represent long hours and crabby customers. Some of us dread sharing tables with strained relatives, especially with the current political climate. If any of these situations sound familiar, here are a few suggestions to help you keep it together through the New Year.
1. Greet The Day
You may groan at the idea of setting your alarm clock any earlier, but there’s real benefit to greeting the sun. If the winter season stresses or depresses you, it will set a tone of mindfulness and calm before beginning your day. If you live in a gloomy city, it could be your only chance to see the sun. Mornings move at a slower pace, offering silence and tranquility. Be intentional about making this your time, and spend it doing something that brings you peace and joy.
2. Get Out In Nature
Nature has the ability to ground us and strengthens our connection to source energy. Take advantage of whatever green spaces are accessible to you. It could be a hike or an overnight camping trip, but even a walk around the block can help clear your mind.
Christmas traditions revolving around pine trees and wreaths were adapted from Pagan rituals that celebrated midwinter and the return of spring. We can honor these intentions by bringing plant energy into our homes and committing to noticing more beauty in our lives.
3. Organize a “Friendsgiving”
As adults we get to choose our family and there’s nothing like a “Friendsgiving” or holiday potluck to remind us of those bonds. This is a great option for those who work on traditional holidays or can’t go home to be with family. Start planning now so that you can get the date on everyone’s calendar, and look forward to creating new traditions.
4. Plan a Cozy Night In
Instead of feeling like a recluse when you opt for another night in, try planning for them ahead of time. This will encourage you not to cancel plans because you’ve already scheduled time to recharge. Planning ahead can also build anticipation and give you something to look forward to on especially frustrating days. Maybe you’ll watch a cheesy movie and eat your favorite comfort foods. Perhaps it will be an opportunity to seduce yourself with a long bath, candles, and silk sheets. The only requirement is that it’s an evening tailored to your needs.
5. Join a Support Group
If the pain becomes too great to bear, know that you needn’t carry it alone. Many people struggle for various reasons during the holiday season and support groups can offer a safe space to process emotions. You can search for support groups on PsychologyToday or GriefShare to find one near you.
6. Volunteer Your Time
Although we live in a society that tells us it’s a “dog eat dog world” and to only look out for ourselves, there are numerous benefits to being of service to others. It provides a sense of purpose and reward while relieving the loneliness that sometimes feels magnified during the holidays. Consider visiting your local elderly care center, offering help at a food bank or soup kitchen, or joining a clothing drive.
7. Get In Touch With Your Sensuality
Our days are defined by routines, making it easy to get disconnected from the body and its needs. Use sensual movement to remind yourself that you are a divine being deserving of pleasure. It could be a burlesque workshop, a solo strip tease in your bedroom mirror, or meditative masturbation. Whatever activity you choose, do it with a purpose of making yourself feel good.
8. Be Grateful
I know this advice can seem dismissive, but bear with me for a moment. If you believe that we are energetic beings with the ability to manifest through intentions, thoughts, and actions, then it makes sense that an overly depressive or anxious mind would attract more of the same. Try to break this spiral by mentally listing all of the things you are grateful for. Start with the basics, like shelter, food, and employment. Then think about the smaller things in your life that bring you joy. Perhaps it’s a tree-lined walk to work every day. Maybe it’s a childhood blanket you still cuddle to sleep. Write your list down and carry it with you for whenever you’re feeling low.
Photos by Eva Zar