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3 Easy Ways to Shake the After-Holiday Blues

3 Easy Ways to Shake the After-Holiday Blues

Now that the excitement and busyness of the holidays is over, it’s time to take a big sigh and get back to normal daily life. This can be a tough time, especially for families who have been extra busy. The beginning of the year is when most people focus on things like taking down all the Christmas decor, (especially the outside lights), cleaning up the house, getting more organized and catching up on some lost sleep. But, some people feel a kind of emotional letdown after the holidays, and this is normal. There are also those who suffer from depression that can vary from mild to serious. Quite a few people suffer from a common winter disorder called SID (seasonal affective disorder), which can be caused by a lack of sunlight and vitamin D deficiency. If you are worried about depression, you should discuss it with your physician. If you are struggling mildly with low moods and lack of energy, here are a 3 easy things you can do that will keep you busy, cheer you up and help you shake off any sluggish winter blahs:

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Chris Reed on flickr

    1. Get outside

    Even in cold weather, you can go outside and get some exercise. Research shows that there are multiple benefits to exercise, including weight control, prevention of disease, mood improvement, more energy, and better sleep. Not only does it makes you healthier physically, but it enhances your emotional moods. Exercise can actually make you feel happier because of the release of endorphines in your brain. You can feel better just by walking. There are many ways to exercise in winter, even if you just do stretches and situps in your living room. Try getting out and doing something fun with your partner, family or friends like ice skating or cross country skiing.

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    Andrew Writer on Flickr

      2. Eat healthier

      The holidays are great for gathering families together and celebrating, but it can be easy to indulge a little too much in foods that are high in calories and overeat at holiday parties and dinners. It’s also very common to overdose on sweet snacks during the holidays like cookies, fudge and cake. So, January is a good time to try and cut back on calories and reduce your sugar intake. If you just remember to eat more raw fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, you will be doing your body a favor. Try cutting back your portions on bread, meat and dairy products, if you want to lose weight and be healthier. You might study the benefits of a vegan diet.

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      Stewartde on flickr

        3. Get creative with your photos

        One thing that definitely helps potential winter mood swings and boredom is to get busy on a creative project. One idea is to look over all the pictures you took with your phone or camera and do something with them. Here are some things you can do with your photos:

        • Make an online album to share with friends
        • Order an enlargement of the best photo
        • Enlarge old family photos to put on the wall

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        Aimee.craze on flickr
          • Make your own creative cards
          • Post your best shot on Facebook or Twitter
          • Have a keepsake photobook made

          Renauld Camus on Flickr

            Besides posting photos in an online album to share with your friends, there are other ways to enjoy pictures. Use your best holiday photos for a fun project to do with your kids, or as a way to enhance your home decor. If you have old family photos and you put them into albums or on the wall, you can cherish the memories. Cards are great to have on hand for any occasion. Photobooks are easy to create at many online sites and they are a more permanent way to make your Christmas photos something you can keep forever. If you get outside and exercise, eat healthier and dive into a creative photo project, you will most likely beat the winter blues, feel better, and get a good start on the new year.

            Featured photo credit: Greenland Travel on Flickr via flickr.com

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            Karen Bresnahan

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            Last Updated on August 13, 2020

            12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

            12 Benefits of Meditation That Improve Your Body And Mind

            As a mediation teacher, I am constantly confronted with these two questions regarding the benefits of meditation:

            1. Why can’t I enjoy the benefits of meditation continuously?

            I ask back: Is it maybe because you see mediation as a technique, performance, or some exclusive activity? The answer is: yes!

            Or, because your mind is constantly evolving on the past negative attachments and traditional habits? After careful thinking they answer: yes, probably!

            Although meditation is very simple and challenging at the same time, in the above mentioned case, it’s not easy to benefit from meditation, especially when approached with the idea that it has to be learned, studied, or applied. Meditation is to be seen as a natural, mental cleansing process that happens on a basis of awareness on a moment-to-moment experience. When that takes place, the benefits of meditation are continuous.

            2. What is the purpose of meditation?

            The purpose of meditation is to accomplish a level of consciousness for mastering the mind and uniting with the finest, deepest, and subtlest part of yourself as a being.

            It is a conscious process of observation of the mind—helping the meditator to understand the structure of its mind and the quality of its content. During this process, countless benefits of a physical, mental, and spiritual/philosophical nature arise for the meditator.

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            Meditation as a Fixer and Benefactor

            In this article we’ll have a look at the primary and the ultimate benefits of mediation, which improve your body and mind at the same time. For the sake of clarity, readability, and tangible experience, I have separated the benefits into three groups.

            You can change just about anything you don’t like about yourself (psychologically, as well as physically) through meditation. However, this is only possible with a specific approach, when your brain allows the benefits of meditation to do their work.

            This means not to interrupt the benefit with other thoughts, but to let their effect implement itself in your body and mind. This approach is crucial.

            The following exercises will make you feel the benefits of meditation instantly, but the continuity of the benefits of meditation on your body and mind depend on the discipline of your brain, how you manage external stimuli and your thoughts.

            Less Physical, More Psychological

            Even though the practice of meditation is more psychological and less physical, the first benefit we’re going to experience is both physical as well as mental.

            This benefit happens literally immediately, right at the moment of meditation. It is the essence of mediation basically.

            The First Benefit of Meditation

            The first benefit of meditation is twofold:

            1. Improving inward attention (sharpening the mind)
            2. Relaxation of the body

            Let’s do it right now. This benefit consists of only one step, and it is very simple to perform. It goes like this:

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            Sit still and pay attention to your exhalation.

            That’s it! Technically, the whole journey into the world of mediation begins here and nowhere else. And right here, you benefit from this step in the following way:

            When you pay attention to the flow of your exhalation (gentle, deep, effortless exhalation), your body begins with the process of relaxation instantly (your heart rate slows down, your nervous system calms, and tension in your muscles is relieved).

            When the nervous system calms, your mind calms down, and, more specifically, less thoughts are produced by your mind. How, exactly? By applying one of the most valuable mental skills—attention—the mind follows the breathing and has no space and time to generate any other thoughts. Only when the attention goes off the breath, other thoughts are constructed, and the mind is accelerating with thought production again.

            Keeping the First Benefit Effective and Ongoing

            Here you apply the approach of not letting the relaxation and attention process get interrupted; rather let the effects of these benefits implant in your body and mind as deeply as possible.

            This is to say, the instant relaxation and inward attention happen at the same time when you follow the flow of your breath. Repeating this process—creating a constant rhythm out of the breathing and the attention—you create a process of meditation.

            Keep your attention on the flow of your breath and see how the calmness of body and mind begin to rule your present moment. The longer you stay connected to your breathing, the stronger you’ll feel the benefit. Start with 3-5 minutes at a time without doing anything else, and increase to 10-20 minutes and onwards.

            Can you think of a better, simpler and quicker exercise that can relax the body and improve attention in this way, at this speed?

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            This benefit takes you to the second one.

            The Second Benefit of Meditation

            While still working with the first benefit of mediation, you slowly start to see the second benefit of mediation, which is fourfold. I call it the major value of mediation:

            1. Energy (physical and mental strength)
            2. Observance
            3. Peacefulness (stillness, and space of mind for deeper observation)
            4. Patience

            Peacefulness is the source of a blissful life. The energy is the fuel to express that blissfulness. Whatever we want to accomplish in life we need: 1) Physical and mental strength, 2) Observance of that energy, 3) Peacefulness—the calmness and stillness that creates space for freedom of being and creative thinking, and 4) Patience for the process of accomplishment.

            You can only get creative in thinking and boosted with physical and mental energy when you get in touch with the deepest levels of yourself—when you harmonize your mental and physiological activities. How do you do that? Let’s try it right now:

            This step involves the observation of the two separate movements of your breath. After paying attention on your exhalation, you have prepared your body and mind to really see and feel what true peacefulness and true energy means.

            1. Energy

            Keep your attention on your inhalation (inhaling gently, deeply and lightly) and feel the new energy (new oxygen) flowing in your body. The inhalation is the symbol for aliveness and vitality. It is the the primary act that connects the baby’s body with the outside world after coming out of the womb[1]. Each inhalation is a new opportunity for your body to revive, regenerate, and renew itself.

            2. Observance

            The observance comes during the process of meditation, enabling you to see the physiological benefits of introducing new energy to your body. Use that benefit by utilizing its effects, and create deeper observation into yourself. With every single inhalation, this observation will enable you to generate even more energy, mentally and physically.

            3. Peacefulness

            Keep your attention on your exhalation, and feel how, out of the relaxation, peacefulness is spreading throughout your whole body. The exhalation is the symbol for relaxation and peacefulness. Only through meditation can you realize what absolute peacefulness means.

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            4. Patience

            The meditation delivers the previous benefits to you immediately and opens up the possibility for many other benefits and great virtues. A specific one to mention, which is essential for reaching the ultimate benefits of meditation, is patience. If you have experienced the aforementioned benefits, it means that you have invested a certain amount of patience into mastering yourself and your mind.

            The Ultimate Benefits of Meditation

            Patience is a key quality when it comes to the ultimate benefits of meditation.

            Since the mind is the tool that reveals everything, mediation is the method for the proper utility of the tool.

            The above mentioned benefits of mediation lead to the ultimate benefits of mediation—qualities that depict what makes a human being human. As you dwell in a meditative state of being, the following benefits begin to emanate:

            • Diligence: the persistence for righteous effort to reach an intrinsic value; inner strength.
            • Temperance: to express self-control and show excellence in managing the physio-biological and mental necessities
            • Courage: using righteous effort and braveness to look into the weaknesses of yourself and at the hardship of your life, endure it and patiently overcome the obstacles
            • Loving kindness and Compassion – a capacity to care, understand, and tolerate other people’s state of being, wishing them freedom from suffering.
            • Wisdom: the moment when you feel that mediation gives you the feeling and the knowledge that what you do relating to life and practical affairs is just.
            • Equanimity: that puts you in a state of composure, and you experience an ongoing blissful state of being.

            These are the 6 ultimate benefits of meditation that put your body and mind in a state of health and balance.

            Final Thoughts

            Mediation exists to put order in your mind and awaken the best of you, to reconnect you to your goodness and your inborn intelligent capabilities.

            Meditation is the window to your true Self. It gives you a panoramic view of your heart’s greatness. It shows you the true meaning of love, freeing you from the dungeons of ignorance and despair. The power of meditation dismantles the evil that’s trying to cloud the beauty of your heart.

            Your heart, body, and soul are the bridge over which the challenges of life frequently carry their heavy load. Meditation is the support of that bridge. Make use of that support.

            More on Meditation

            Featured photo credit: Mor Shani via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Medline Plus: Changes in the newborn at birth

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