Although “the blues” can be a very good thing coming from Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Etta James, or Bonnie Raitt, that after-the-holidays blue feeling isn’t an especially welcome companion. Especially in very cold weather and cloudy days. Especially when bills start arriving and we begin to think about tax season. And most especially, if sugar blues have let our immunity down and we find ourselves rummaging around under the bathroom sink, looking for cough medicine. Even children can experience the post-holiday blues when the emotional pendulum begins to swing back from heightened expectations and over-the-top days to getting up early again for school.
Navigating the holidays doesn’t have to end with the blues. “Let down” can also feel like a profound sense of relief as things get back to “normal,” with fewer social, financial, and energy demands. Taking down decorations and getting the house back in order can be a physical signal to ourselves that it feels good to have a fresh start. With or without resolutions, beginning a new year gives us a motivation to put things in order that may be out of order.
Maybe the out of order has been in the area of relationships. The holidays are very good barometers of a family’s level of connection. Maybe the out of order has been in not taking care of ourselves. The holidays can be the occasion for letting us know that when we overstress and overeat and over extend, we really don’t feel like our best selves. Maybe the out of order has been a loss of passion for our dreams and goals, especially those of reaching out to others. The holidays provide snippets of satisfaction when we are reminded how good it feels to finish a project, even a small one, and see the delight in another’s eyes.
The blues help us to get real and remind us of our humanity. They are only a stepping stone for clarifying what we really want our lives to be about. January is good for stepping up and out.