Send Post-Holiday Blues Packing

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Holidays are full of food, colorful decorations, anticipation, thoughtful greeting cards, family and friends. And suddenly, it all stops. January rolls around, and you are hit with a let-down feeling.

“The feeling of being down once all the festivities have ended is not unusual,” says Lee Doppelt, Ph.D., a psychologist from Lake Oswego, Ore. However, celebrating life and each other does not have to end Jan. 2.

Even though winter can be a quieter time, there is no reason to stop enjoying family and relationships. Below are some tips to help you and your family continue that good holiday feeling in the New Year.

1. Create new celebrations

Have a family meeting and come up with a new, crazy celebration. Invite friends to join. Let your kids come up with ideas about what to do, but keep it simple by having a one-pot meal and asking guests to bring dessert.

You may enjoy a classic movie night with just your family or sharing stories about when you and your spouse were growing up. “Before television, people used to gather during the winter to do crafts, talk and tell stories,” says Laura Wozniak, licensed clinical social worker and a therapist at Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Ore.

2. Revisit gratitude

Being thankful is often connected with Thanksgiving. Now that the holiday is over, it is easy to forget about gratefulness. Each member of your family can start a journal listing ideas and people for whom they are grateful. If you have a younger child, write down the thoughts she shares. Model for your children a grateful attitude and talk about being content with what you have.

3. Relax a little

Allow yourself a day off to putter around the house. If you have young children, take an hour to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or other special treat. Giving yourself permission to relax is important. “Without some rest periods, individuals are more susceptible to emotional tension and physical illness, which often occurs ‘after the storm,'” Doppelt says.

4. Walk, dance or run

After the delicious holiday food, you may feel as if you overindulged. Don’t let winter weather keep you inside on the couch. Go for a walk with your kids. “Research demonstrates exercise lifts mood if done regularly, even when you don’t feel like it,” Wozniak says. Change it up by turning up music inside and play freeze dance with your kids.

5. Explore winter wonders and enjoy them indoors

Study winter and its features with your kids. Visit the library to select winter picture books if you have younger children, or even if your kids are older. Picture books often are enjoyable no matter your age. Ask the children’s librarian for recommendations.

Hibernation is an interesting topic to study with your children. Not all animals hibernate, and there are degrees of hibernation. A variety of both warm- and cold-blooded animals hibernate. Or investigate weather. Read children’s poetry about the weather and have your children close their eyes as you read to them. Ask them what they see in their minds.

Snowflakes are as unique as each child. Children who can use scissors can make paper snowflakes. Discuss individuality while making snowflakes. See how many different ways your child can make a snowflake and then decorate your house. Glitter and gel pens add to the indoor winter sparkle.

6. Grow green

During the holidays, homes glow with bright decorations and lights. After the holidays, our homes can seem bleak and barren. Buy a plant to grow in the house. Involve your kids with planting and watering. Bulb kits for paper whites, daffodils, hyacinths, tulips and amaryllis are available in most discount stores.

7. Start a new hobby

According to Doppelt, not having a pleasant task to look forward to can lead to depression. Join Facebook or learn how to tweet with Twitter. Start a new series of books. Look into cooking classes.

“Choose one realistic goal and begin slowly,” Doppelt says. If writing has always been a latent passion, buy an attractive journal and start filling it.

8. Skip the guilt of resolutions

New Year’s resolutions normally are rooted in guilt. Wozniak does not recommend resolutions, suggesting New Year’s affirmations instead. “Write down what your best friend would say about you and put it on your mirror or write that you can accept yourself as you are today,” Wozniak says.

9. Consider light deprivation

Realistically, shorter days and less sunshine may contribute to post-holiday blues for some people. “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real condition in which depression grows with darkness,” Wozniak says. She recommends consulting with your physician if you suspect you suffer from SAD. It’s also a good idea to discuss your vitamin D levels with your doctor as well.

10. Seek help

“If your sadness really disrupts your daily life or if you have very negative thoughts of doing things that would be harmful, call a therapist or doctor,” Wozniak advises.

Reach out to family and friends and make new treasured moments. Don’t let the rain or cold stop you.

Jan Udlock is a home-schooling mom of five and a freelance writer. She loves both jobs most of the time.

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