Thursday, January 2, 2014

Now what?

The holiday season is over, all except for the clean up, should say. January tends to be a rather difficult month, at least where I live.

Some of the citizens of the District will fling themselves directly back into their work. Many people here thrive on working like dogs, hence to them I assume the end of the holiday season is a relief on some level or another.

Others among us will feel sad that it's over. Those are the folks who love gatherings, don't mind the noise and chaos so much because of the warmth of feeling that everyone at least tries to embody at the holidays. We're supposed to practice being generous and grateful, loving, giving, with family and friends at the holidays. At all other times, in DC, we're supposed to be ambitious, focused, and rather cutthroat, if need be. But from Thanksgiving to New Year's, we're supposed to be nice.

For some, this comes easily; others struggle against their natural temperaments. Those who love the holidays will hesitate to take down the Christmas lights, will perhaps leave their trees up until they are dry, brittle, and have become serious fire hazards.

No matter how you feel about them, when the holidays end, it's kind of a shock. Some launch full tilt into exercise and diet regimens in an attempt to make right what has been, to their minds, Very Wrong. The idea is to fix it as fast as possible. Many overdo the exercise part, injure themselves or at least find no enjoyment in moving around, and are back on the couch by mid-February. It doesn't really work in the middle of winter, when we're supposed to hibernating, to suddenly ask our bodies to work in unfamiliar patterns, to transform like that. It's quite cruel. Start an exercise program in March or April instead. Go with the season. It makes the process so much more fun. Between January and March, walk around the block once a day, or turn on some music and dance around your living room. That's plenty of mid-winter activity for those who have been sedentary.

Here's a link to a post I wrote a few years ago about dieting in January. It makes no sense whatsoever and will only confuse your body even further. Please don't go on a diet!

It's not uncommon to become slightly depressed in January. It can be gray all day. The rain is cold, the wind sharp and mean, the sunlight too brief and quite thin. The days are allegedly getting longer, but it's hard to notice in January. A seasonal depression is one of the ways we adjust to the new year. In the Reyaverse, January Doldrums is a condition of mild psychological cleansing, a perfectly natural state of being. That blank feeling that we call depression is a cleaning of the slate. It passes with the season.

I'm not talking about severe or acute depression. I mean a state or period of emotional inactivity, stagnation. It's not pleasant but is temporary. Those who are severely or acutely depressed should seek help, not just in January.

The best medicine for the month of January is patience, self-compassion, and gentleness. Those attitudes go against the grain in the city where I live, at least. We aren't always that interested in the best medicine.

Recovering from the sugar, alcohol, rich foods, loud parties, terrible traffic jams, crowded shops and supermarkets, lack of sleep, travel nightmares and glut of presents is hard on the animal of the body, believe me. It takes time to detox from all that.

Try to be kind to yourself, please? Take some deep breaths. This month, too, shall pass. Thank you.

Happy 2014! May it be gentle. Shalom.

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