The higher your Christmas, the more exciting, chaotic and tumultuous, the more likely you’ll be tumbling down just as far. Why? According to psychneuroimmunologist (big word meaning the effect of brain and emotions on health, i.e., immunology), Paul Pearsall, Ph.D., our smart bodies want to establish equilibrium. Picture a graph on a midline. The midline is calm, routine. We can get very happy and go up; or very unhappy and go down. Therefore, if our emotions go way up, there will come a time when our inner wisdom brings us down low, so we settle back into that middle space.
Does this mean if you have a terrible grief or depression, you can expect to be that happy at some time in the future? I’ve seen it happen. It’s a tenet of Emotional Intelligence that if you don’t fully experience one emotion, you stuff down ALL emotions. In other words, if you face grief and go through it, not around it, you will carve out a space to be filled with happiness. If you don’t, you shut down, and become numb, in which case you don’t feel the bad, but you also don’t feel the good, and greatly limit your experience of life.
So, if you’re having a “down” period now what do you do? First of all, accept it. You can last it out. To speed it on its way:
1.Get active. Exercise an extra hour. It creates physical energy, it clears the mind, and flushes out toxic emotions. Do it especially if you don’t feel like it.
2.If you’re an introvert you may prefer something like yoga or Tai Chi.
3.Clean your house from top to bottom, doing the physical work yourself. Do it like a ritual, that is, with meaning. This is to get rid of the yuch, and make room for the sunshine. This is a tradition in many cultures at the New Year for a reason – because of what we’re all going through right now! Throw stuff out, sweep toward the doors, vacuum then take the bag out and dump it in the garbage, wash the furniture with something like Murphy’s soap.
4.Accept quiet times and go with the flow. Curl up by the fire and read good books. Coddle yourself with extra long baths with special lotions. Get your nails done. Get massages. Fix yourself a warm breakfast. It’s kind of a hibernating time anyway.
5.Jumpstart your thinking brain. Start a new course. If you’re an extravert, go to community ed classes. If you’re an introvert, enjoy yourself on the internet with distance learning courses and take teleclasses.
6.Start a new intellectual project at work (if possible) and/or at home.
7.Start anything new – new health club, new piano lessons, coaching, fencing lessons, new hairstyle.
8.If you live in an area where this is high allergy-time (such as Texas), pay adjust your diet, because it’s cumulative – pollen PLUS diet PLUS dust and mold inside your house. Clean our your air ducts.
9.Laugh. One simple exercise is to put a pencil in your teeth crosswise. This makes the muscles of your face into a smile, and this helps our bodies. It gives us the same great relief a good laugh does.
10.Don’t fight it. There is no need to appear “Miss Congenialty” when you aren’t feeling that way. It’s okay to be in a quiet place.
Also, because this is the peak of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), get more sunshine. Exercise outside. Take a Caribbean cruise. When the sun crosses the bed in the spare bedroom, go lie down and soak up the rays.
Change is the only thing that stays constant, so know that your mood will eventually find its place. If you are seriously depressed, check with the many mental health professionals available to help you.