Each year, the holiday season brings with it a lot of excitement, activities and social gatherings. We often make a special effort to decorate Christmas trees, treat our children to Santa sightings, purchase colorful wrapping paper and gifts, make festive cookies and treats and even take the time to “move” our Elf-on-a-Shelf in unique poses! The entire month of December is often devoted to one task after another with the intention that our children get to do, see and experience as much as possible, without considering the effects on our wallets, bodies, internal spirits and minds.
After the holiday season ends, we start the new year with a firecracker burst by staying up all night eating, drinking, socializing with friends and family and sleeping in late the next day. While society conditions us to act this way at each holiday season, we often face the beginning of the new year with sadness or reluctance to do things. Mental health experts believe such holiday overstimulation may lead some people to experience anxiety, depression, mania or stress.
Despite the real possibility of going through post-holiday blues each January, parents can take several steps to regain our sense of inner balance and find joy again after being overstimulated.
Exercise is a wonderful catch-all word that encompasses many forms of movement. We can choose to kick it up a notch with some intense body conditioning and workouts such as the PX-90 system, HIIT (high intensity interval training), or TRX suspension training. We can also take it easy by taking a dance class, walking in a mall or even following along with a workout video from the comfort of home. The goal is to move our bodies and exercise, which will help our bodies release endorphins and bring back the joy.
One of the best and easiest ways to bring back joy after the holiday season is by cooking at home. Spending time in the kitchen cooking together doesn’t have to end after the holidays are over. Taking your children to the grocery store and choosing fresh ingredients together is a simple way of bonding and spending quality time. Continuing to involve the children with the cooking at home encourages pleasant conversation and playful, light-hearted moments. Plus, home-based cooking is healthier and better for our bodies and monthly budgets.
Let the arts seep into your spirit and enjoy some time by trying out some simple arts. Visual and fine arts are not just for children; parents can and should experiment with their children’s art kits and supplies. Toilet paper rolls can be easily cut into flowers, modeling clay can be molded into fancy 3D shapes like minions, and colored pencils become our best friends as we bring black-and-white coloring pages to life. Participating in arts activities should not stress us into making perfect reactions; instead, we should focus on the process and the happiness in working with creative materials.
Make the time to unwind. Some parents may find that practicing deep breathing can bring peace and calm to one’s mind. Others may choose to find relaxation by spending quiet time in natural environments, such as gardens or with pets and animals. Whatever you choose, finding ways to truly relax can do wonders to a mind that has been subjected to excessive stimulation over the holidays.
The typical definition of retire has to do with retiring from a job after working for many years. Another form of retiring is to withdraw or get out of a place or situation. Parents can withdraw themselves or their children from too many activities or commitments. People are often afraid to decline invitations, events or social engagements because they feel pressured to accept everything or else they or their children will miss out on something great. However, doing too much brings about overstimulation. Parents can retire from things with a graceful “no thank you” without elaborating. When declining activities, be careful not to provide extra information or excuses why you must decline because people will try to offer options to get you to commit. You will achieve more joy by retiring yourself and your children from too much activity and simplifying your lives with fewer things to do.
You do not have to do all of these things to help you overcome post-holiday blues, but you should feel encouraged that the start of the new year marks a new beginning for you, your children and your family. No matter what you choose to do or not do, do not allow society to pressure you into making set resolutions or doing specific things to make you happy. You are in control of your own happiness and you have the power to bring joy into your life by making small, gradual and conscious changes.