This time of year, it's easy to hole up, reassess everything a little TOO much, and generally be a drag to everyone -- even your kids' hamsters. I mean really, when you are snuggling a hamster and telling it how well it understands you, it's time to do a little check-in.
(Um... Is this just me?)
You probably just came off a fall FULL of stuff. Then you spent too much time with in-laws over the holidays who ask what they think are benign questions but really the CIA would be impressed with such tactics. And now, you're looking at a looming winter ahead: cold, dark, and possibly not sure if you're really doing what you want.
You ain't alone, kid.
What seems like a good time to reassess can also bring us to a screeching halt energy wise. First of all, if you feel you have to or want to do New Year's resolutions, read this book: The Year I Will, by MJ Ryan. I work with MJ and she is brilliant and has done her homework about the studies on keeping resolutions and making changes. Don't do resolutions ever again without reading this. They don't work the way you think they do. Check it out. You'll succeed this time.
Next, if you are assessing EVERYthing too much (if you're not sure, just ask your spouse or best friend who will happily tell you if you are!), you might find you are only ruminating and getting nowhere fast. A better way to get a grip on whether your life is heading in the right direction is to try a few of these exercises:
1. GET LOST. Allow yourself to BE lost... but only for a very set period of time. I recommend an hour or less in a book store perusing the racks without telling yourself what is okay or normal for you. Browse something like Pinterest, or cookbooks or look at a list of documentaries available on-line -- but make sure that you don't judge or analyze what you pick. This is the most important part. Just let your eye wander, pick something and then experience it. It might be something you've never even thought interested you. Or something you think shouldn't interest you based on how you perceive yourself. Just experience it and then you can analyze or think about it afterwards. But BE LOST IN IT. It's hard to allow yourself to grow if you confine yourself to only things you've done before. This is the space to do that. But whatever you pick, set a time limit. You're not actually trying to encourage feelings of sadness or confusion. This should be enlivening and fun. This is exploratory, with a goal of information-gathering, not a dastardly slink downward into the "yawning black hole of meaningless existence" ...as my comedy song "My Mid-Life Crisis Song" says.
2. NEWNESS! Wake up your creative spirit. Or just wake up ANY part of you. You might want to spend a day at a retreat center or school type thing, or with a group doing something you've never done before: yoga, surfing, drawing, web design, learning a new skill. Shake it up, babe! Or just grab a friend and ogle cute dudes and babes at the gym. If your friend questions it, say your life coach told you you had to. For your health.
3. FIND COMMUNITY! Maybe try a women's group. It doesn't have to be a book club or mommy group or, heck, even really women. But community is one of the most important parts of mental health and of getting a grip. Coffee, lunch, an exercise group, or something no one's ever done before. I particularly recommend this last one and I am writing a book about it (shhhh, it's under wraps but I promise to come back and share a chapter later). Not only does creating a group that's never existed help create community, but it's also CREATIVE. You'll get energy back by doing the creating and exploring. You might come up with the idea on your own, or with a gang, but either way, part of the process of coming up with it will rejuvenate you. Just a note to pick the participants carefully. Find energetic fun friends first to set the stage. Remember that this is for YOU. You're helping YOU get your groove back, not rescuing others. You can always invite those you want to inspire later once the activity and posse is established. I'd give you some ideas but then I'd have to kill you. Sorry. My publisher's rule. Plus then it would take away the whole point!
4. SCHEDULE IN FUN. This time of year, you need things to look forward to if your day to day is feeling humdrum or even if you're a bit depressed. Dinners with friends, tix to a play or musical, you name it. Things you know you like and things you have always wanted to try. Again, I recommend making plans with other people. Their energy will lift yours. Rarely are you going to have a dinner date with three other people that doesn't perk you up. Even if they are three totally drained people - chances are you'll give each other energy.
5. SEEK OUT COMEDY! My personal fave. And full disclaimer: This is my job! We've all ready the studies. COMEDY MAKES YOU HAPPIER. We're talking chemically happier. And, um, by that I mean the legal self-made kind of chemicals. Like in your brain.
It's important to TAKE steps toward fighting the January blues. It's a real thing. And in colder climates it's fairly universal. By DOING something about it, you are by definition taking your life into your hands and making yourself feel like your life is more under your control. This in itself helps you feel more energetic and hopeful. Be sure to also schedule in a little rest time, but if too much down time just adds to the blues, pull back. A coffee with a friend, a massage, (a massage with a friend...), going to bed early, (going to bed early with a friend!) - these are probably better bets.
And comedy. Did I mention watching some comedy?!?!
If you'd like a free copy of my book or free tickets to an upcoming show of my satirical songs in New York City, (it's comedy people! It's on the list!), I'll be giving out three copies of the book and two pairs of tix to five of the people who sign up for my newsletter now. Or send me your email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And I'd love to hear what you chose and how it went!