We’re busy having so much fun during the holidays and then they’re done – too much quiet time, ordinary moments which do not distract us from internally induced stress. If you want to sustain happiness after the holidays, learn from retailers. This sounds counterintuitive and crassly materialistic, but the core principles are not. Retailers know how to generate a buzz and keep it going. Do you?
Retailers start stocking the shelves in September and mailing out their holiday catalogues before Halloween even hits. Periodically, there are special one-day sales. Shopping Online? Major department stores host special mad-rush hourly sales in early November. Human beings just love to anticipate and celebrate events as well as anticipate and celebrate anniversaries of these events: Graduation, a fresh new love, first job, first car, new home, marriage, a new baby, holidays, etc. – the possibilities are endless. In fact, anticipation often trumps the reality of achievement because who can compete with the imagination?
The secret to a sustainable happiness is lining up your own series of small celebrations to anticipate
. Since Monday mornings tend to hurl one down into work week stress, counteract the mood by scheduling something fun to start the week. Try a power breakfast, evening drinks, movie or theatre tickets, dance/art/cooking class, or dinner with friends. Just make sure it is scheduled in order to guarantee compliance.
. You don’t need to wait for a free week or two. Day-cations are great fun and easy on the wallet. Plan a winter picnic, doing a hiking trail or enjoy antiquing with your honey. The beach in the winter can be a surprising experience. Stay overnight at an inn. You can schedule a series of day-cations to fuel your spontaneity and joy. Consider this analogy: According to the latest research from the American Medical Association exercise doesn’t have to be squeezed into a solid block of time which can trigger an all or nothing mindset if you don’t have an hour to spare. There are great health benefits accrued with just five minutes here and five minutes there throughout the day, like lowering blood pressure and creating improved focus. The effect is cumulative.
Feeling down since Jan. 2nd?
Ask yourself what are retailers doing? They are having clearance sales to get rid of winter merchandise which didn’t sell as expected. Similarly, it’s time to de-clutter your space and make it uplifting by taking a personal inventory of what no longer serves to make room for new inspiration. By the way if you gained some excess winter weight, spring into fitness by anticipating a lighter you in a bathing suit–without the layers to hide behind. Housecleaning is great exercise, but then so is dancing. Either way turn on the music and move!
. You are late in the retail season if you have not anticipated the spring. In department stores it is springtime from visuals to sound effects. It’s time to bring in the spring – pretty bulbs blooming in every supermarket can be on your table signaling to reset your natural rhythm. A new hair cut and lighter makeup cheers me up. Also, the days are longer for you to schedule an extra fun activity – found free time just for you for expansion instead of contraction.
Every holiday revolves around food and food and happiness correlate highly
. Create your own food fest. Anticipate creative menus with seasonal produce, wines, inventive cocktails and baked breads. Spice up the mood with music and décor which complements your specific theme. Create amazing healthy, quality recipes at home with your significant other or eat out and indulge in being served. Get friends and family on board and rotate the food festivities.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-management specialist and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com