Thursday, December 19, 2013

Moving Past the After-Christmas Blues


Last night at church a young mother pulled me aside before the children’s Christmas program. “I remember what you shared with our women’s group a few months ago—about how you experience the blues after Christmas is over. I can relate. I’m dreading it.” Her soft blue eyes filled with unwarranted apology.

My heart ached for the woman. I assured her she wasn’t alone. Many experience the same foreboding feelings when January rolls around. 

Here are some tips I shared with her that I’ve found helpful. Perhaps they will encourage you as well. 

Plan ahead.

Just as you prepare for the holiday season, plan for the post-holiday season. Often we’ve invested so much energy shopping, decorating, baking, and visiting family that once the holidays are over, we drop into a chair exhausted, totally spent, and without a clue how to move forward into the new year.
Treat yourself to some much-needed rest. Sleep in on the weekends. Take a “4R Rejuvenation.” This is exactly what I have planned for our Life Group ladies on January 26. We will meet together to reflect on our lives, rehearse God’s faithfulness, renew ourselves in His love, and release everything and everyone into His hands. We’ll eat together and treat ourselves to massage therapy. 

Having something fun to look forward to, preferably with others, will breathe new life into your spirit. 

Invest Time in a New Hobby.

This one thing has greatly helped me over the past two years. Two or three months before the New Year begins, I decide on an outlet I want to pursue that is fresh and new. One year, Chuck and I took a six-week Shag dance class, which got me through to the end of February. I knew the previous October that I’d have this new outlet to liven up the winter months. Another year, I invested more time in my artwork, a hobby I don’t typically spend a lot of time doing.

Take a Winter Trip. 

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get away. A “trip” may simply mean taking a short drive to a nearby museum or concert. Or it may mean a weekend away at a Bed & Breakfast (one of our favorite getaways). Whatever the trip, plan it in the fall, so that you have something to look forward to in the winter months.

Take your Vitamin D.

This one is getting more press these days, but it was not always so. The winter blahs can sometimes be traced to a lack of sunshine, so make sure you take a good quality Vitamin D supplement to chase away fatigue and depression.  When winter sunshine shows up on your doorstep, take advantage of it. I eat lunch with the front door open, since the sun streams through the glass door. 

Keep Moving. 

After consuming all those rich holiday foods, our bodies tend to be lethargic. Couple that with cold weather and we often resist the admonition to exercise. It’s so vital to the body and the mind to keep moving. Take a walk. Sign up for an aerobics or swim class. Use the rebounder while watching your favorite television show. Set some nutritional goals or revive old ones. 

Get Involved in a Volunteer Activity.

Joy is never experienced so thoroughly as when we give ourselves away to meet the needs of another. Consider volunteering at your local Rescue Mission, food pantry, Battered Women’s Shelter, teen center, or Crisis Pregnancy Center. 

Get Together with Friends.

It’s easy to pull within ourselves after a busy Christmas season. Resist the urge to do so. We need each other! Go out for coffee. Invite a friend over. Knit or talk or bake, or whatever it is you love to do, with someone else. 

Stay Close to the Lord.

Sometimes during the busyness of the holiday season, we let our devotional lives slip. We talk about the Lord; we do things for the Lord, but we fail to spend quiet time in His presence. Thus we enter the New Year spiritually depleted, longing for love and fulfillment. If we’re not careful, we’ll allow Satan, the flesh, and the world to complete our desires rather than turning to Jesus. Monitor your temptations according to 1 John 2:16 (the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life). Remember that God wants to provide the way of escape if you will draw close to Him (1 Cor. 10:13). Surround yourself with the Body of Christ—don’t isolate. 

According to Philippians 4:9, often we simply have to do the right things before we feel like doing them. God will honor our godly actions with good feelings of joy and peace. 

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