Whew chileee...2018 was a long one, wasn’t it?! Well, we made it! Happy 2019!
So, my favorite holiday (after my birthday) is Christmas, and I have to admit that I’m still on a high from the holiday season. I’ve always loved this time of year because of family traditions, beautiful decorations, fun festivities, church programs, being around loved ones, everything that makes the holidays special. Since I was a child, I would count down the days as I listened to Christmas music and enjoyed sweet treats with hot cocoa. When I say I love the holidays, I really mean I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS.
In 2017 I didn’t feel the same joy that I usually felt around this time. Although I did enjoy the time I spent with my family on Christmas, I felt physically tired and worn out. I suffered from headaches that grew worse, and I could feel depression sinking into my spirit.
I thought that maybe I just needed some rest since I was fresh out of grad school. However, January passed, and I still felt depressed. Then February passed…and I STILL felt depressed. The winter weather only made my feelings worse, and the fact that I couldn’t stop for a real break (#adultlife) added to my symptoms.
So, I spent day after day feeling sluggish and unmotivated to do anything. It was a feeling I could not shake. This was the first time I’ve ever experienced a deep depression, so you can imagine how scared and “off” I felt.
I’m happy to say that I made it through that tough period and came out stronger! This winter, I’ll admit I was a little scared that I may suffer from seasonal depression again, but I read a friend’s blog post that inspired me to try my own self-care techniques for the cold season:
I decided that I also wanted to share a few things that I’ve been doing since November to combat any negative feelings that may try to settle into my mind, heart and soul. Here’s how I’ve been keeping my holiday cheer even into the new year:
Strengthened My Prayer Life
First and foremost, let me say that no self-care routine could ever replace what God can do for me! Without His grace and mercy, I would NOT have been able to pull myself out of the dark place that I was in. So, I’ve been constantly in prayer asking that He guide me through this season and thanking Him for the 360 that has happened in my life since last winter.
Surrounded Myself with Family and Friends
Although I’ve always hung out with family and friends, I felt like I was mentally isolated from everyone. I had no desire to be around people last winter, but that has completely changed. I’ve made it a point to go back to my hometown and even invite my family over to my place a lot more this season. My friends and I have also had so much fun these last few months that my mind has been at ease. I even hosted a “Litmas Girl’s Night” at my place to invite some fun energy into my home.
Decorated My Place
My apartment is kind of new for me since I just moved in this August, so I was excited to get some Christmas decorations up. I bought my first Christmas tree and added some cute little hints of holiday cheer around my place! Seeing my living room lit up from my tree puts me in a great mood every evening. It’s January and my decorations are STILL up (don’t judge – they’ll be here for a while, haha).
Became More Intentional About Living in Gratitude
Earlier this year, I was gifted a gratitude box that allows me to write down and collect the things that I am thankful for in my life. I also made it a point to start all my prayers with thanksgiving, and to be mindful of even the small blessings throughout the day. Telling God “thank you” multiple times a day has trained me to focus on the good instead of maximizing the bad.
Consumed More Positive Content, Cut Back on the Ratchetivity!
Since the Chrissy and Jim Jones days, I have been a FAITHFUL Love & Hip Hop fan, never missing a season! This time around for the New York season, I have decided to do a Love & Hip Hop fast (haha). Guess I’ll stick to my Christmas movies!
Beyond this show, I’ve made a point to consume less negative content via social media and television. I have also tried to engage in positive conversations only.
Got Back into Doing Arts and Crafts
As a child, I LOVED arts and crafts time in school. Earlier this year, I painted some AKA stuff for myself, so I decided to dive back into that creative space by making some AKA wine glasses as gifts for a few of my Sorors. Playing around with the glitter and hodgepodge did something to me! Because of the peace I felt when creating these gifts, I’ve decided to continue making custom items (and even selling them in my new Etsy shop *winks*)!
Paid More Attention to Sermons
Let’s be real. Sometimes we go to church and our minds completely zone out because of the million things we have going on (or we’re just sleepy). The last few weeks, I have been committed to focusing and engaging more in church. Amazingly, I’ve noticed that the past few sermons have been right on time for me which has left me feeling empowered throughout the week.
Reading Books (Well Starting New Books)
Now, I have not finished any of the books that I’ve started, haha, BUT at least I’m trying y’all. Taking time to read more has placed me in a better headspace since it relaxes the mind and takes you away from reality for a bit. I have my friend’s book club to thank for that extra push to read more.
If I could only finish my books!
Made BOLD Claims
The Bible tells us that there is power in our tongues, so I’ve been exercising that a lot more lately. The peace and joy that I have right now are manifestations of desires that I spoke over my life. Now, I’m learning to make bold claims for what I want to see happen in my life. This has given me a stronger sense of power.
For the month of January, my friends and I are doing a group fast to kick off the year the right way. While this is only two days old, I can already feel the positive effects of my commitment to gain clarity from God. Fasting has always kept me centered and allowed me to feel God’s presence even more.
These are just a few practices that I’ve incorporated into my daily routine and I’ve already noticed a huge difference in my aura. I feel lighter, refreshed and HAPPY! One of my 2019 goals is to continue doing what fulfills me and keeps me feeling like my best self. I want this holiday cheer to carry over into the upcoming months of this new year.
I think it’s essential that we all fill our lives with what brings us the most joy as we fight the inevitable battles that life throws our way. Combatting any form of mental distress is a tough process, but I do believe that it’s one we shouldn’t give up on. We can and DESERVE to have peace of mind and everlasting joy, even during the difficult periods of our lives.
*Please note that what works for me may not work for everyone, so it’s important to find what helps you cope. Self-care techniques are aids and should not replace seeking professional help if you feel that it is necessary for you to do so when battling with depression, anxiety disorder, and other mental illnesses.
What are some of your favorite self-care activities that keep you happy during the holiday season?