This week is always rough. Every year, without fail, the Monday of the week after the last day off until MLK Day feels like…the End of the World.
In Pittsburgh, it hasn’t snowed more than a few flurries this year. This morning, my husband and I were out in twenty-some degrees, huge bunches of dandruff-y snow coming down at our car. There was traffic. It was dark. Everyone had left their warm cozy spot in the bottom of their stockings and gone back to work or school. Or both.
I know that not everyone is lucky enough to get holidays off, but I can’t help feeling like the first full week of the year is long. The winter is so very, very present – short days, long nights, cold hours. The expectation and happy buzz of the holidays comes to a screeching halt, and you’re just left trying not to think too much about how long or much or badly it’s going to snow. That last bit may be a yankee problem, but it’s definitely in my head.
So here are some tips of how to stay sane after the holidays are over and you’re facing nothing but grind ahead:
- Stay well-stocked: I know few people who have said, sincerely, “I love grocery shopping.” It’s very tempting to just stay in bed on the weekends or order food for dinner on the sly. But you’ll actually find it much, much less stressful to have extra food and household stuff on hand during these horrible months, especially when the work day is draining.
- Sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Even if it’s just running up and down your stairs a few times, or doing calisthenic exercises in-doors. Anything to get your blood pumping.
- Plan ahead: take this time to really decide how you’d like the year to go. The winter will be over before you know it.
- Take a look at your current job and decide if you want to develop certain skills or work on goals. During this time of year, my day job is really, really big on career development. Is yours? Is there anything you can do to try something different? You’re stuck there for a large portion of your time – make it happen on your terms.
- Start new projects, especially ones that are just for you: try painting. Journal. Create collages. Take photos (B&W is so in this time of year). Expand your imagination.
- Get really, really into things you enjoy. Recently, for me, that has been anime, movies and really good television series. I do make sure to monitor my time, though, so I know I am being productive as well as recharging.
I dream in Fahrenheit
Between the great northern hours of
January through March
From beneath the heavy heat of stews
And the shapeless form of pants and pants and socks and
In the quivering, shivering sleep I make out
The swirls of reds and orange and purple
And blues that are not of dead
But of the back of the bay
And I taste on my tongue sweet creams
That only the sliver of summer can afford
And I am waist-deep in the soft decadence of sand
The lover I take is San Diego
We talk for hours and when we’re not talking
We’re on each other
When the leaves ash and the sun retires
As dark-tipped birds cross the threshold of forever
Sometime between when the moon speaks
And the quiet clouds open up to sing
And the chill air rolls across the glen
Between the charcoal black touch of burnt fingertips
Around and about the uneasy stay
Of northern light and comets
She will stand at the edge of tomorrow,
Holding fast her chariot of snow rabbits
Until they will conquer the world
With icy smiles and frosted glee.