It's mid-January. Christmas decorations are put away, vacation days have all been spent the Hallmark channel is back to showing whatever they show when it’s not December, and it’s still miserably cold outside.
The blues are setting in.
It’s totally normal to feel kind of blah these first few weeks after the holidays. I mean, it’s kind of like slamming into a brick wall after cruising at 100 miles an hour for the last month or two. It’s all fa-la-la-la-la until January 2nd. Then there’s nothing.
No more holiday parties or shopping lists or “did you ask your mom what time we’re supposed to be there for lunch?” The gifts have all been wrapped and unwrapped, the casseroles baked and eaten. It’s just back to work, and even that kind of feels like coming out of a cloud.
Every project, email or meeting you said you’d “get to after the holidays” seems lightyears away. It’s overwhelming to figure out where to pick back up again.
Suddenly life - the same normal life you were perfectly content with before Thanksgiving - somehow feels unexciting and dreadfully stressful at the same time. So I wanted to share my seven favorite ways to get back to feeling good about life without all the tinsel and lights - you know, that plain, ole everyday life that deep down inside you truly do enjoy.
1. Set new goals
I won’t harp on this one too long because I just wrote an entire post about it last week, but setting goals is a fantastic way to get some motivation flowing into the new year. Whether it’s learning a new hobby or improving an old one, write down something you'd like to be better at this time next year and get after it.
2. Declutter your home
I probably clean out my closet once a month. There’s something freeing about getting rid of stuff you don’t need or really even want anymore. Bonus points if you can donate it and know that someone else will get to enjoy it.
Decluttering is beneficial for the obvious reason that it creates more space in your home, but it’s also super mentally healthy to practice letting go of something that has run its course. There’s a ton of research out there to support this. I actually just ordered Marie Kondo’s best-seller “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which focuses on getting rid of items that don’t bring us happiness. I’ll let you know if it’s actually life-changing, but in the meantime, get to decluttering.
3. Get some exercise
Whether it’s hitting the gym for a workout or walking your dog around the block, do something to get your blood pumping. While exercise is recommended as part of our daily routines for physical reasons, the mental and emotional benefits are pretty awesome too. Physical activity is proven to stimulate chemicals in your brain that can improve your mood. Plus working out gives you more energy by delivering oxygen and nutrients to different parts of your body. This article explains it. Shoot for at least 30 minutes a day, but if you don’t have the time or just flat-out don’t want to do it, try taking a walk around your neighborhood and see if it lifts your spirits.
4. Start a side hustle
This blog has been giving me so much life since the holidays. I enjoy writing posts for you guys, and it gives me something that’s not stressful that I can pour my time and creative energy into when I’m not working. I love my job. I love running my media company. I feel grateful to be able to do what I do. But it is a job. And I have deadlines. And even though I’m my own boss, there are responsibilities and work that just has to get done. But with this blog, I have the creative freedom to write about whatever I want. And if no one reads it, so what – because I enjoyed the process.
So find your “blog.” Maybe for you it’s a business you’ve always wanted to start but never really got serious about putting the time and energy into. Maybe it’s painting or woodwork or photography or dance. Maybe it’s e-commerce or stocks or real estate or something else I don’t understand. If it brings you joy, it’s not really work – it’s a side hustle.
My husband and I have set aside Tuesday nights to work on our side hustles, and it’s quickly become my favorite night of the week. We eat dinner at home and then go into the home office, and I write blog posts or work on my book and he works on setting up his new business. We usually end up helping each other out, and it’s just fun to encourage each other and chase our little dreams together. I think when we have kids someday and life is freaking insane, we will look back on these nights and be grateful for this whimsical time together.
Pick a night. Chase your dream. Start your side hustle.
5. Find your routine
I know it feels like years ago, but believe it or not before all those late nights binge-watching holiday movies while eating Christmas cookies and chugging eggnog, you did have somewhat of a routine. And it may not have been half bad. While the turn of the year is a great time to set goals and make changes, it could just be that you need to reconnect with your old routine. The one you had before the holidays. If it was working for you then, it can certainly work for you now.
6. Spend time with your people
Ok, family is awesome. I LOVE spending time with my family during the holidays. But… being around people, even ones you love…
day and night…
for several days in a row…
can be draining. My husband and I spent six days straight surrounded by our families over the holidays. We truly loved it. But when we got home at the end of day six, we realized we were completely exhausted. And we didn’t want to see people for several days.
This is totally fine, and even healthy. But it can be tempting to feel tired and slip into that introvert mode (which is rarely-charted territory for me personally) and just stay there. Before you know it, a week has passed and you’ve spent every evening alone on your couch watching Netflix. We need people. We were made for community. Call a friend. Go get a drink together. Go see a movie. Go on a group run. Go to dinner with your family. Go play tennis. Call your grandmother. Go to church. Go to a coffee shop. Just interact with another human. Or two. Or 20. Don’t get in a funk and be hyper-introverted and go a week without seeing anyone.
It gets sad and dark, and I’m not about that life for myself or for you.
7. Just feel stuff
This is a hard one for me. When life is busy and chaotic (kind of like during the holidays), it’s easy to suppress negative emotions and pretend they don’t exist. I am incredible at this. When the N’SYNC holiday album stops playing and there’s no one left to buy gifts for and I don’t have to vacuum up bristles from the tree every 15 minutes, I am left with time to feel things.
Things I sometimes don’t want to feel.
But we need to feel things. We need to recognize when we are sad or angry or fearful or anxious, and we need to know that that is ok.
So maybe the best solution to fighting the post-holiday blues is to not fight them at all.
Maybe the best solution is to just sit in them. And be still. And quiet. And feel.
But just for a little bit.
Because then you have to get back out there and chase your dreams and declutter your home and spend time with your people and rule the world and stuff. Just don’t be scared of the feelings. They’re not so bad. We all have them. And if you need to talk to someone about it, that’s ok too.