The holidays! For all of the liberal use of “merry” and “jolly,” this is not the holly jolly time of old. People are stressed, money is tight and the state of the world is depressing. Nevertheless, the pressures of the world can get to anybody and nobody is safe from the holiday blues.
1. Get Out, Get Active
Generally, a great way to combat the blues is simply to exercise. The act of exercising has been a proven antidepressant for most people. When you work out, you release feel-good brain chemicals like endorphins and creates major side affects like the reduction of stress. Back in the day, we used to have a family football game at my parents house. So, get the family out if you can, but I say make the exercise fun! If you can’t get out, do it in. The Wii is also family-oriented exercise. What about a dance contest? Be creative! If you are lucky enough to have snow (I love snow), go sledding! Remember, exercise has a plethora of positive benefits, but for the holidays it brings people together.
2. Focus On Fun
There is plenty out here in the world to remind us why things suck. Just look at the news headlines: “WARNING,” “DEATH,” “MURDER,” and “MAYHEM.” It makes you want to holler, like Marvin Gaye once crooned. Shoot, it makes you wonder if they want everybody to be walking around like unhappy zombies. Cards, board games, hide-n-seek! Don’t be a party poopper! Get in there and have fun! For me, it really resides in the kids. Some say the holidays are all about the kids, but I don’t subscribe to the notion. I believe the kids simply augment what should already be there. So, just deflect the woes of the world for a few days.
3) Take A Short Vacation
Most people do not have the same amount of money as they did just a few years ago. And it has been proven that just about all the gains that African Americans made since the 60′s have been erased. But, most of us have the means to take a short vacation. When I mean vacation, I don’t mean that thing my childless, single friends do. No, don’t go to St. Maarten —go to Uncle Martin’s! I know. The water over at Uncle Martin’s is not as clear as the water in the island, but it can act as a getaway that breaks the monotony of the regular. Personally, I am headed to my mother’s in Virginia. While it is a trek, its a worthy road adventure. We also get to celebrate some time with family we don’t see very often throughout the year. That love cannot be found in a land far, far away.
4) Don’t Drink Or Eat Too Much
Just don’t do it! During the holidays we tend to eat and drink more. Overeating makes people sluggish and lethargic. So, eating too much would counter both number 1 and 2 on this list. Overdoing it with the liquor, spiked eggnog or whatever won’t help very much and will tend to act as a downer. Together, overeating and overdrinking both make for a sloth-like break disguised as relaxation. You will likely pay for it over when the spring rolls around.
For a lot of people, that saddest period of time lies between Thanksgiving Day and Valentines Day. When you think about it, those are some heavy days. People find themselves reminiscing on past family situations, past loves and present conditions that may not be optimal. One of the biggest mistakes folks make is try to wing it during this period of time. Basically, by planning out your activities on a special day can help you defer the seemingly depressing reality. A lot of people—including myself—alternate when they have their kids during major holidays. This pretty much sucks anyway you look at it, but it can be easier if you know what the day looks like in advance. Fill it with friends, get away to a movie or at a museum. There are also web sites like MeetUp.com that encourage like-minded people to convene for cool stuff.
6) Be Thankful
Each day above the ground is a gift and an opportunity to make it a good day. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but it never hurt to count your blessings. A very good friend of mine gave me a gratitude rock for me to rub every time I got down. No, its not weird! Its just something to represent the fact that you are blessed. Be thankful and be positive. It goes a long way.
Words: Chuck Creekmur