Beating the blues

As I was wrapping up what seemed like the thousandth ornament I was struck by the quiet. No holiday music playing, no fanfare, no reminiscing over holidays past. My usually warm, cozy, lively house seemed empty and lonely. Cue the post holiday/winter blues.

In remembering back to my childhood, I think of how much build up there was to the holidays. I mean an entire month of pre-holiday parties, concerts, recitals, shopping, cooking and family time, then………… nothing! Ugh. Even the most upbeat person can be affected and if you aren’t a winter person (Hello! that’s me) the time between January 2nd and say March 1st is dreaded. These days with even more emphasis on material gifts and over scheduling ourselves and our kids, I can only imagine how kids feel after the build-up and crash. Just ask any teacher and you will hear all about the post-holiday behaviors.

Those of us with large families definitely had an advantage during the gray, cold months. I mean, there was always someone to play with, built in playmates if you will. Not only were we creative but my Mom (aka Granny) fueled that creativity through her own methods of dealing with 6 kids, plus friends, in the house. I very clearly remember indoor picnics with our dining room table draped with an old sheet. Don’t get me wrong, days spent inside were limited. Granny would chase us out as soon as our chores were done and we would trudge through the snow to sled, build snow forts or skate at Wright’s Pond. A past time, I am happy to say, that is still enjoyed by families in my old neighborhood.

Want to help beat the blues?

Listen to Granny and get outside! Soak up as much sun as you can (you remember the sun, right? It’s that yellow ball of happiness in the sky) Most people know that sunlight provides us with Vitamin D. But did you know that it also improves your mood? Have a snowball fight (no head shots please), build a snowman, go for a scavenger hunt, identify winter birds, or just go for a walk. Oh and be sure to open your drapes and blinds fully during the day. Any little bit helps.

Exercise-it’s good for mind and body. In my humble opinion there is no better way to improve your mood and reduce stress than a good workout. This goes for kids too. Pack them up and bring them to the Y for family swim or racquetball. There are always options available here and outside.

Incorporate healthy snacks. Refined and processed foods may give you a sudden boost but ultimately they zap your energy and can affect your mood and concentration. Instead incorporate complex carbohydrates like brown rice and grains with fresh vegetables and fruits. Oh and do not underestimate the value of hydration. DRINK WATER and lots of it!

Remember those resolutions? Did you set some goals for your family? Why not do that now? Align your goals with the family goals. What better way to ensure your success then to have your family help you achieves your goals? If your resolution was to eat healthier, have the kids help you research and shop for menu items. It gives you some support and involves them in the decision making process. Helping Granny cook was where I developed my passion for cooking. Oh and man could she stretch a dollar, while creating well balanced healthy dinners for the lot of us? (Side note: Who else had color coded meals as a child?)

Create new traditions. Why not make post-holidays fun? Have an un-decorating party or create a scrap book with stories from each family member using cards received. Make a post-holiday menu of everyone’s favorite dishes and have the kids send them out as thank yous for their gifts. Why not teach your kids about the benefit of giving and helping those less fortunate by having them collect their unused clothes and toys to donate to a shelter or area non-profit? (This last one is also a great way to get rid of the clutter that inevitably happens post-holiday. Score two points for Mom/Dad)

And if that doesn’t work, and you aren’t planning on heading south to warmer climates, head instead to a garden show. Not only is it cheaper, but it is a quicker fix. Believe me, between the wonderful aroma of flowers and earth, the warmth and the bright lights, you will fool your body and mind into thinking spring has already sprung.

Be well and see you at the Y.