Friday, 6 January 2012

That’s Christmas over with, what to do till Spring?

I love Christmas and New Year, all the decorations and celebrations and sparkle that go with them. But at this time of year, when the excitement is behind us and it seems like a long, dull slog until we reach the warmth and light of Spring, I can get quite down. It seems hard to maintain the brightness of Christmas, and keep my energy levels up. Last year I cheated, and went to South East Asia for the first 4 months of the year. It was very effective, but not necessarily practical to do every year. So this year, I’m staying in the UK, and making a deliberate effort do more than “just survive” these few months. Here are some of the strategies I’m going to try. If this is the “low season” for you too, maybe this will spark some ideas to get you motivated.

1. Use colour. After the decorations came down today (it’s bad luck to leave then up after twelfth night!) the house felt a bit plain and boring. So inject some colour. When I put the decorations back up into the attic, I brought down a brightly coloured throw and rug to go into the living room instead. I’m writing this wearing an orange jumper (and socks), and I treated myself in the sales to a yellow coat (trust me, it’s gorgeous). Even food can join in – cook warming foods in reds and oranges like tomatoes, sweet potato, and my favourite, beetroot. And remember that, in my house anyway, fairy lights are not just for Christmas.

2. See people. After the social whirl of the party season, you may, like me, relish a bit of quiet time. But that’s no excuse to become a hermit for 3 months. Book to see friends, maybe those you didn’t catch over Christmas, in mid to late January, and agree to make a bit of an effort. In my case, a good friend was in France for the festive season, so the “Kent crowd” will be meeting up in a few weeks. Dress up (posh togs or fancy dress, whichever appeals!) and maybe do a “secret Santa”. If you’ve overdosed on novelty presents, consider charity gifts such as World Vision’s Must Have Gifts – and make a game out of explaining why a goat or a bar of soap is a perfect reflection of your friend’s personality. Having fun with people we like is a sure bet for lifting the spirits.

3. Go outside. Although it can feel grey and miserable, the days are now getting longer, and I know I feel so much better if I get some daylight on my skin (and in my eyes, to regulate my hormones). Not to mention a bit of fresh, non centrally heated air, and, dare I say it, a bit of exercise! So I’ll try to go to the supermarket on foot (it is ridiculously local!) rather than popping in on the way back from somewhere in the car, and to walk into town. If all else fails, I might even just go for a stroll!

4. See the light. I got a light box (a very bright lamp that mimics daylight) several years ago now, and it’s made a huge difference. I sit in front of it while I eat breakfast, and sometimes lunch if I’m at home. If you have a degree of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or Winter Blues, I’d definitely say it’s worth a try. Although bear in mind that it is most effective if used from about October - getting one now will have limited benefit, at least for this Winter.

5. Book a treat. Think of something you’ve always wanted to do, whether it be pure indulgence and pleasure, or something out of the norm for you, even outside your comfort zone, and book it. If possible, for a date in the next 3 months. (I feel I should point out that a 2½ hour Thai Massage with Hot Herbal Compress is both highly pleasurable and a bit unusual – just saying ☺) I’ll confess, I haven’t booked anything yet; I haven’t decided what it’ll be. Maybe a retreat weekend, maybe I’ll finally have a go on a climbing wall (or both). Whatever I plump for, it’ll give me something to look forward to (and anticipation is a fantastic feeling) and it’ll be a great experience. Most importantly, I’ll know that I gave that to myself, and in doing so recognised my worth.

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