Surviving the slump

In the run up to Christmas there is a lot of discussion about self care over the holiday season. I wrote about surviving Christmas here a while ago. It can be especially important for some to give serious thought to how to keep Christmas safe.

However this “big push” to get through Christmas (or any other culturally/ethnically significant holiday, such as for example Eid, Spring Festival, Rosh Hashanah can mean we give little thought to what happens afterwards. This can be further exacerbated by the very fallout from the holidays. Alcohol, overspending, time spent with family members who increase our anxiety, all can have a huge impact, and one which does not go away simply because the calendar does not have holly berries decorating it anymore. Indeed today, January 7th is known as the busiest day for divorce enquiries as people try to make sense of the stresses and strains of the holiday period.

  1. Acknowledge how you feel

So, you survived Christmas, how do you go about surviving the post Holiday slump?

Sure, some people wake up on January 1st, use that gym membership, embrace dry January and commit to healthy eating, early nights and a lifestyle worthy of an instagram celebrity.

Then there are the rest of us.

Even if you had a fabulous festive season its highly likely you did more, and spent more emotionally than usual. This can especially be the case for women, who can carry the burden of making sure that everyone else has a great time. All of this means we can end up in January exhausted, the holidays mean we need a holiday, just at the time of year when most of us cannot afford it.

Give yourself an emotional holiday. Say, its OK to have down time, to not start new projects, to build in space to rest, and if need be recover.

2. Count your spoons

Spoon theory was devised originally by someone suffering from a chronic illness to describe what their life actually felt like. There is debate about whether it is OK, or appropriation to use it for mental health conditions too. I tend to have a rule of not assuming what rocks other people are carrying in their backpacks, what burdens they live with day to day that may not be visible. Have a read of the link and consider, are you using too many resources, over-committing at a time when preserving your energy might make more sense? This doesn’t mean doing nothing, but may mean looking at priorities, and making yourself a priority until you get past the slump

3. Consider Therapy

Yes, I know, its an obvious suggestion for me to make, especially as, as I wrote here I have found my own therapy so helpful. However often the reason we slump after Christmas is because we have been holding everything in. There can be such pressure to not “ruin” everything for everyone else that our own emotions get smothered and stifled. Therapy can be the perfect place to unlearn those habits of silencing how we feel.

4. It’s OK to not be OK

By this I do not mean that depression, anxiety and other issues are trivial. However, not being OK is often a cause of guilt, which makes everything else feel even worse. Guilt can be like a background app which drains our battery, meaning its harder to get anything done. It lurks, ready to pounce when we compare ourselves, when we judge ourselves inferior, when we look at others and decide everyone else seems to have a perfect life. Letting go of guilt about struggling not only frees up space but is a radical step towards self acceptance.

I am not about to pretend that a single blog post can make everything magically better, however perhaps it can stop things getting worse? Sometimes, in the dark nights of January, when the bank balance is red, and the mood black, that hope is enough.

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