As the holidays wind to a close, it's difficult not to feel depressed as you put away the decorations. After a sparkling, light-filled December, January is bleak and grey, isn't it? In Texas, where I live, January is the one month out of the year that we can expect to see snow. But the rest of the month is usually just bitterly cold and dreary, with more sleet than snow. And add to that any kind of seasonal affective disorder, or cold, or flu, or any other ailment you might have, and it just gets worse.
But the post-holiday season doesn't have to be a stellar letdown. In fact, there are easy steps you can take that can ensure that January remains, if not as sparkly as December, at least not a complete wash. You need to move quickly, though, and take decisive steps--otherwise, it's too easy to fall victim to the short days, grey weather, and chill in the air.
Your missions, should you choose to accept them, are as follows:
Step 1: ABC--Always Be Completing
As soon as I turn in one project to my agent to rep, she asks me what I am working on next. And this is a smart way to look at life. Don't tie your identity or wellbeing to one month of the year, one season, one holiday, or even one manuscript. Instead, as the holidays wind down, look for projects to start in January. Your New Year's Resolution might be your next big thing, so get excited about it.
Step Two: Get Out of Dodge
Too much of the holidays are consumed by travel. And sometimes this travel isn't the most enjoyable, if you're dealing with a lot of traffic or family guilt or both. So step back and plan an outing that just satisfies your soul. Don't worry if you can't afford to book a cruise. Some of my best outings have been spontaneous road trips my husband and I plan. We just get out the map; look at all the destinations within an hour's drive, and go. Our most recent trip put us in downtown Decatur, Texas where I ate the most amazing grilled cheese sandwich, and we found a brand new thrift store to scour. Fun doesn't have to be expensive, and travel doesn't have to take you far.
Step Three: Get Help If You Need It
There's no shame in getting help if you are genuinely suffering from depression. This time of year can be extremely difficult on even the heartiest souls. So if depression really is threatening to overwhelm you, talk about it. Your physician or counselor, or even a trusted friend can help you gain perspective on a situation. And if need be, your physician can help by starting you on a mild antidepressant. I've seen both holistic practitioners and traditional physicians for various ailments, and both have helped me combat stress and depression through supplements and even medication if the need arose.
Right now, I am combating the winter blahs by finishing a current work in progress and beginning edits on another one. What steps will you take to make your January a little brighter?