If you have ever found yourself with the holiday blues, I may have a solution. Today, I share a few ideas that worked for me to avoid stressful times. Hopefully, these ideas help you or someone you know. I am not a counselor. I haven’t been to therapy. This works for me and hopefully, it can work for you.
A positive attitude is your biggest asset, both professionally and personally. I didn’t always see the glass half full. My thinking has shifted away from seeing the glass half empty. Over time and with consistent effort, I like to believe I have developed the muscle that keeps me moving forward.
Few of us will tolerate someone with a negative attitude.
Fewer want to work with a negative colleague. Ideas are shot down, and progress is interrupted with reasons why something can’t get done. Even if we know the person well, relationships are strained when someone is in holiday depression.
If we are focusing on why something can’t be accomplished,
we are NOT focusing on how to come up with possible solutions.
Unchecked, holiday blues will increase over time in small increments. This can go unrecognized until we are too deep to get out.
The first step to minimizing your funk is to recognize and prepared for it. Below are a few examples that will trigger someone into a funk:
Holidays and families
- Family dynamics
- Financial stresses magnified by unemployment numbers.
- We may not be able to see friends and family because of travel restrictions.
- Your candidate didn’t win. Political beliefs affect us every day and have an impact on our personal and professional relationships.
- Your candidate won, but you may be getting frustrated with the lack of a transition.
- Regardless of your candidate, there are questions about the future of the country.
- You may know someone that has passed away from COVID.
- The added stress when working from home and homeschooling children
- You may have older parents that are at risk.
- COVID may have closed down your industry, and you are looking for work
- Recruiters not calling back
- Being declined for a job you are qualified for
The above are just a few things that can cause someone to get a case of the holiday blues. Here are a couple of things that worked for me. None of the below items cost much money to implement. In most cases, they cost nothing.
Mantras are my foundation.
I find myself reminding myself the below regularly:
- Take control of what you can control.
- There are things we can control and things that are out of our control. If we worry about what we cannot control, we lose focus on what we can control. Focus on the controllable.
- Work on one impossible task at a time.
- There are times when the goal seems impossible. Most goals can be achieved when we break them down into smaller goals. Prioritize and focus on the first impossible task and then move onto the next. Remember, we put a man on the moon in the 1960s. You can get through this.
Three ways I keep out of a funk
- Keep busy (I need a project)
- I need to feel good about myself.
- Have something to look forward to
If I find myself in a shitty mood or think I will be going through stressful times, I become proactive. I make a list of what I will do to keep busy and feeling good about myself. I make it brain dead simple to accomplish the above bullets.
Remembering how to stay positive doesn’t come naturally in tough times. I can’t count on remembering all the projects or activities I need to keep engaged in.
The last time I thought I might get into a funk, I took a 2 foot by 3-foot paper and taped it to my mirror. I made it big so it couldn’t be missed. It was a living document, and I added to it as time passed.
Here is a sample of what was on the list:
Yard work: I listed out the specific projects I wanted to work on in the yard. This works well for me because it is just “busy work” but keeps me active, gets me outside, and I will have something to show for my efforts. I don’t have to think about what I am doing when I am in the yard, and it can be a great distraction from whatever is bothering me. It’s always rewarding to check projects off a list.
Feeling good emotionally and physically:
I list out my specific exercises and work out in the basement. I don’t want to think about the workout. If I have to think about it too much, it may not get done. By writing out the workouts, there is one less barrier to entry. Everyone is different. I feel better when I am in shape. For me, being out of shape is the beginning of the end. It doesn’t mean I am running a marathon or squatting 315 for reps. Working out for you is different than it is for me. Find what works for you.
Watch the West Wing reruns:
Being inspired by the leaders and role models reminds me to do the right thing, even when I don’t want to. This cast played civil servants that were hard-working, dedicated, and well-intentioned.
This is a show that I consider to be Aesop’s fables for the modern age. There is always a lesson to be learned from each episode. I also like that everyone is looked at equally based on merit vs. based on their planet or country of origin. I blogged about Star Wars vs. Star Trek here.
I live on a river, and my passion is fly fishing. Some folks go to a golf range or have a batting cage to practice their craft. I practice casting. Rivers and be outdoors clears my mind. It can be for just 30 min, but it all helps.
Tying flies is my “art form,” an artistic release. I can take 15 minutes and create a little piece of art on a hook while showing respect for the Steelhead I pursue.
Practice the cello:
When I get into a melancholy mood, playing the cello can help me harness any “emotion” I may have. I have played cello since I was 4 years old because my parents made me. Now, I can practice because I want to. They say the cello is the closest instrument to the human voice, and there is something cool about that.
Everyone is different
You will probably have different activities. The key is to figure out what will keep away the holiday blues proactively. I am not expecting to be singing “The Hills are alive with the sound of music,” but avoiding the downward spiral is always a win.
Focus on what you can control
Focusing on the negative will move you deeper into a downward spiral. You may only sink a few degrees in a day, but over a week, over a month, those degrees add up.
Think about what makes you tick, what puts you in a good mood, and what can keep you out of the holiday blues. Write down your activities and hang them where you can see them. Make it easy to engage and be pro-active in controlling your destiny.
See you at the after-party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, ridiculously good, tricky, and manipulative, but with the result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone good at something. “He has a nasty forkball.”
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