The holiday season can be amazing: a time of gift-giving and celebration, when we have meals with loved ones, often witnessing and receiving the blessings of human generosity in full force. For some, it is a time filled with the wonder and magic of a child, and for others, it is a deeply spiritual time that demonstrates a time of renewal and hope. Still for many people, perhaps far many more than we dare to admit, the holidays can be very challenging. This challenge can even be exacerbated by the very belief that we are supposed to be so joyful during this time, and that something must be wrong with us for not being so. This downward cycle of the Holiday Blues can be remedied however. Here are some cures you can try if you find your spirits feeling low this holiday season.
1. Count your blessings
Make it a practice each day to say out loud what your blessings are in this life. Be clear that this process is not intended to suppress any real sadness or blues you might be feeling, as that would be dishonoring part of you that is real. But, it is a way to recognize that the inner focus on sadness is not the only focus worth your time and attention. Start with saying out loud the phrase: “I am blessed that…..” and let your subconscious mind fill in the gap without premeditating your answer. Keep it spontaneous and free flowing, not an intellectual exercise. You’ll be surprised how many times you realize a blessing that you may not have been consciously aware of: the kindness of a stranger, the beauty of a tree you encounter each day, that wonderful cup of tea or coffee you get each day as well as the smile of the person serving it to you. These seemingly small blessings add up, and can shift our awareness to acknowledge the greater blessings in our lives.
2. Be of service to the world
A great way to heal your own suffering is to help soothe the suffering of others. This is true during the holiday season as well as beyond it. If the chaos of shopping at the mall is getting to you, and you don’t feel the holiday cheer, why not spend that same time bringing joy to someone else? Take the focus off of you and put it on bringing more light to the world. Give a donation of time or money to a worthy cause. Go help a friend with some project. Pick up any trash in the parks and on the sidewalks of your neighborhood. Write a letter to a the elderly. Here is one link that can help. There are many ways to be of service to the world. Pick something you feel passionate about so that it comes from the heart, and help make the world a better place.
3. Give something away for free
Giving away an item you value not only honors the holiday spirit but it also creates space in your life for something new. Think of those belongings that you value and are ready to release, which also might bring joy to someone you know: such as that old guitar you haven’t picked up in years, or that laptop that works great but doesn’t have the latest upgrades you want, or that cherished book in great condition which you have read and love but is sitting on the bookshelf now collecting dust. Give these items away to those who can put them to good use. It will bring joy to that person, and creates space in your life for you to bring in something new.
4. Plan a feast, and then a fast, for something you want to manifest
Food is a big focus during the holiday season, so take charge of your food experience and give it a purpose. Allow yourself to partake in the festive meals, the holiday work party, or even a delicious dinner you cook for yourself. Each time you feast with others or in solitude, do so with a purpose. Intend that the food is a blessing. Bless it in your mind, or out loud, to represent something you want to bring into your life. Remember, we are what we eat, so visualize that piece of turkey (or tofurky) as the raise you are hoping for from your boss, or something else you want to manifest. Eat mindfully, as if every bite is helping make that dream come true in your mind’s eye. Then, balance the more heavy meals with a fast in the days after, maybe even to start the New Year. It can be a juice fast, water fast, or simply eating only fruit for a day or more. Most of the world’s spiritual traditions give emphasis to fasting for bringing powerful change into your life. So, balance the time you have spent feasting with some time spent fasting, keeping the focus on something you want to manifest for the New Year.
5. Share food with others
Since food is such a large part of the holidays, it is also a great way to create community. It doesn’t have to be complex and can actually be quite simple. If you have friends who live nearby, invite them over to enjoy a holiday dessert or snack. Even hot chocolate and cookies will do! A key ingredient to creating community is sharing food. If your friends are away for the holidays, invite an acquaintance or co-worker over, or that neighbor you say hello to but never get to really know. This is the time to widen that circle of community in your life, and enjoying a holiday dessert is the perfect excuse. Who knows? That acquaintance may become your new best friend.
6. Say something kind to a stranger
Offering a simple hello or compliment to someone you don’t even know can raise your spirits as well as theirs. Be extra kind and generous with your words and use them to uplift those around you. It’s a very easy practice, and does wonders to brighten your day as well as theirs.
7. Shop less and exercise more
Sometimes the Holiday Blues is simply the result of the way we treat our bodies this time of year, as well as the way we treat our wallets, where both our bellies and credit card debt grow large. Spend less time shopping and more time burning calories, be it at the gym or working out at home.
8. Watch an old movie that reminds you why life is amazing
Some people love watching classic holiday movies this time of year like Its A Wonderful Life starring James Stewart. But even if you prefer something of a different genre, remember movies are art, and art can be medicine for the soul. Sometimes, all we need are the right lines from a movie or song to remind us of what we need to hear—that our lives are precious and amazing gifts.
9. Find a place to meditate on New Years Eve
If you want an alternative to the traditional New Years Eve celebration, know that many yoga studios and meditation centers now offer New Years Eve meditations. It can be a wonderful and healthy way of starting the year. Simply making a commitment to attend can change your attitude weeks before the clock turns midnight to bring in the New Year.
10. Believe in your dreams and take action on making them real
Allow yourself to dream big dreams for the upcoming year. Then, buy a calendar for 2015, and write into each day of that calendar an action you will take for making your dreams become real.
Featured photo credit: Pretty red haired girl walking on frozen lake and making footpath via shutterstock.com