Happy New Year! It’s a bittersweet phrase. While a fresh start has its appeal, it can also be tough to leave behind the holidays. I myself relished two weeks with my family (and away from the computer), and I spent this past weekend assiduously avoiding thoughts of the to-do list that awaits me. In the interest of ignoring my inbox juuuust a little longer, I’ve written this list of ways to beat post-holiday blues. The secret lies in identifying the things that make the holiday season a magical time, then stretching them into January and beyond!
Sights, sounds, and stimulation: Whether it’s the smell of stuffing wafting from the oven, your favorite carols on repeat, or the thrill of fun new gifts, the season is full of pleasures that pique our senses and lift our spirits. Because we humans thrive on novelty, going back to our pre-holiday routine can feel like a letdown. So find some ways to keep things interesting in January. Test a recipe from the cookbook Santa brought you; sample an intriguing class at the gym; take an alternate route to work; switch your morning latte from hazelnut to vanilla. Just be sure to keep your new to-do’s small and simple so you don’t overload yourself (see #4).
Time with family and friends: Though I was anxious to be back in my own space after ten days at my parents’ house, I started missing Mom and Dad the moment I boarded the plane. For as much as family and friends can admittedly try our patience, there’s lots to love about them too—and life seems lonely after the bustling social interactions that mark holiday season. Take a moment to reminisce and express gratitude for your time together. Send your mother an email thanking her for a favorite shared moment. Ask your aunt for her mouthwatering gingerbread recipe and file it away for next year. Schedule a coffee date with a friend you didn’t see in December so you can trade holiday stories.
A break from work: For many of us, the holidays are the closest thing to a vacation we have all year, and the thought of returning to our desk can inspire paroxysms of panic. But work has its purpose, one that’s all-too-easy to forget in the wake of parties and presents. Switch up the usual ‘back to the grindstone’ mindset and list five good things about your job. Don’t overthink it. ‘Gives me an excuse to get dressed in the morning’ and ‘pays my bills’ are perfectly good reasons—especially when you have new outfits to wear and the credit card bills to prove it!
That breathless pause: The world seems to stop during the week between Christmas and January 1, especially in contrast to all the December build-up. While it’s tempting to dive back into reality with gusto—there are resolutions to keep, after all!—doing too much too soon will burn you out faster than you can say ‘New Year’s detox’. So schedule downtime in the coming weeks. Get a mani pedi or escape to the spa (plenty of sales out there!); follow up your vigorous Vinyasa yoga class with a relaxing Yin session; make a date with the cat, the couch, and a new Netflix series (I highly recommend ‘An Honorable Woman’). And if your holidays were crazy from beginning to end, then all the more reason to book some unstructured time this month!