The 5 Best Ways to Beat the January Blues


Hey Its Okay Positively Present

 

Happy 2018!

2017 was... interesting (to put it nicely), and I can't deny that I'm looking forward to a fresh start, with 12 whole months of possibilities ahead. That being said, January is always a bit of a tough month for me. For some people, there's the excitement of a fresh start, the glow of the coming year's opportunities, and I want to embrace all of those things too, but more often than not, it's just stressful. The beginning of January often comes with a mix of make-it-the-best-year-ever pressure and it's-ages-before-my-favorite-season (autumn) rolls around again. 

Like many people, January often finds me either fretting about what I didn't do in the previous year or worrying about all that's yet to come. Plus, the holidays are over, the days are short, dark, and often gloomy, and it's cold. It's not the greatest month for a lot of us, but that doesn't mean we can't do our best to stay as positively present as possible! 

Here are some of the tactics I'll be using this month to try tackling those January blues. All of these I've tried before and they've really helped me ward off the doom-and-gloom of the new year. Hopefully they'll help you too! 

 

ACCEPT THE DOWN-AND-OUT VIBES

When it comes to dealing with a difficult situation — no matter what it is! — the first step is acceptance. If you try to pretend you're not struggling or you try to push away the sad or stressed emotions, they'll come back even worse (and often in unpredictable and bizarre ways!). If you're not feeling the "new year, new me!" vibes, don't worry — you're not alone. It's a challenging time for a lot of people, and the first step to making it easier is recognizing that it's okay not to feel super excited and optimistic about the year ahead. Twelve months is a long time, and you don't have to be jumping for joy on day one. Allow yourself to feel how you feel, and try your best not to judge yourself or tell yourself that you "should" feel a certain way. You feel how you feel, and that's perfectly okay. 

 

DO SOMETHING YOU PUT OFF LAST YEAR

Part of the not-so-great feelings that can come along on January 1 involve believing that you didn't accomplish everything you wanted to last year. You've probably heard about the high failure rates for new year's resolutions so if you didn't get all of your bad habits under control last year, you're not alone. You can't change everything that happened last year, but you can take a positive action right now. Think of one thing you could do right this month (today even!) that you wanted to do last year. It doesn't have to be something big — could be cleaning out a closet, donating some old clothes, writing an email to an old friend, visiting a museum you've been wanting to check out — but pick something and do it. It'll make you feel good, and it'll set a positive, proactive tone for the year ahead. 

 

START A NEW (POSITIVE!) DAILY HABIT

I know, I know — this is the most cliched new year advice in the world, but for the past few years I've started doing Yoga with Adriene's 30 Day Yoga Journey and it's been amazing for me. Working out is hard (especially if you're not a fan, like me) and this is an easy way for me to get into a routine without too much effort since I can do it at home anytime I want. Plus, because she's been doing these for a few years, I start a old video series in February and it keeps me on track for a few months. It apparently takes about two weeks to start a habit so why not incorporate something into your daily routine now? It doesn't have to be a major shift (sometimes that whole "resolution" concept feels daunting!), but doing something (however small!) new on a daily basis will give you a nice little focus for upcoming gloomy month.  

 

KEEP YOUR HOME FESTIVELY HYGGE

Last year after Christmas, I decided I was going to leave up the lights all year 'round. I'd decorated my bookshelves and windows with them and I knew that taking them down was one of the hardest bits of post-Christmas de-decorating because it meant a lot of the light would be taken out of the room. Keeping up lights always seemed too college-dorm-room to me, but once I decided to embrace them, it was kinda awesome. I generally don't use them much in the warmer months, but they keep my place feeling cozy and hygge-like all winter long. Lights might not be your thing, but try to do something at home that'll keep you feeling cozy and uplifted throughout the darkest months of the year. Even a little thing can have a big impact on your mood!

 

MAKE A STAY-THE-SAME RESOLUTION

Years ago, I wrote New Year, Same Me: 6 Stay-the-Same Resolutions, and I think about it every year when all of the articles and blog posts on making and keeping new year's resolutions start popping up everywhere. There's always so much focus on what we want to change and what we hope for in the year ahead (or reflections on what happened the year before), and most people don't pause to think about what they want to stay the same in the upcoming months. Resolutions might work for some people, but I personally find them frustratingly ineffective. Since I wrote that post back in 2010, I've found it a lot more useful to think about what worked well in the previous year and direct my focus to creating more of that in my life. Instead of focusing on what you don't want to be (or don't feel you are), try zeroing in on what's working about you and your life, and it's sure to make January a bit more joyful (and perhaps a little less judgmental, too!). 

 

If you're struggling right now, don't forget: you're not alone. A lot of us have a hard time during this time of year, and the best thing you can do is do what you can to make the most of it. Hopefully these tips will provide some inspiration for the weeks to come, but if you're really feeling down and can't seem to shake the January blues, I highly recommend seeking advice from a professional. Therapy (and light therapy!) can work wonders for the toughest time of the year. 

 

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The Ultimate Book Gift Guide : 2017 Edition


Books-Positively-Present

 

 

As a writer and a reader, books are one of the best aspects of life in my opinion — and they're always at the top of my gift lists every holiday season. Last year I rounded up a list of some of my favorite recommendations in the Ultimate Book Gift Guide, and this year I decided to add to the list. If you already perused last year's list, start from the top, as that's where I'll be adding the newer recommendations. 

No matter who is on your shopping list (or maybe you're just looking for some good reads yourself!), you're bound to find some good options below. As with last year, I've tried to offer suggestions for who might enjoy the books, but definitely click the links to check out the titles that appeal to you, since you never know who might enjoy certain titles! 

And if you have any recommendations for books that make good gifts, feel free to leave the titles in the comments section below!  

  

FOR ADULT FAMILY MEMBERS

For the one who could use a little more magic in her life...
The Rules of Magic / Alice Hoffman

For the aunt who really needs a life overall...
Reinvent Me / Camilla Dollerup

For anyone (or related to someone) battling addiction...
Recovery: Freedom from Our Addictions / Russell Brand

For the cousin who is really into his dog (and science)...
Being a Dog: Following the Dog Into a World of Smell / Alexandra Horowitz

For the aunt who is obsessed with animals...
How to Find Your Spirit Animal / David Carson

For your dad who loves Charles Dickens...
The Man Who Invented Christmas / Les Standiford

For everyone in your family who doesn't understand introverts... 
Text, Don't Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life / Aaron Caycedo-Kimura

For your mom, who's always trying to make things cozy...
The Little Book of Hygge / Meik Wiking

For literally anyone related to you or who has a family... 
It Didn't Start with You / Mark Wolynn

For your uber-opinionated and vocal grandfather...
The Joy of Argument / Albert Navarra

For your too tough-and-cool for self-help uncle...
10% Happier / Dan Harris

For your memory-hoarding mother... 
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up / Marie Kondo

For your self-involved (but secretly sweet) teenager... 
Tiny Buddha's 365 Love Challenges / Lori Deschene

For your not-quite-on-the-same-page spouse...
The Five Love Languages / Gary Chapman

For your romance-novel-reading mother-in-law...
Other People's Love Letters / Bill Shapiro

For your hilarious (and a bit odd) aunt...
Furiously Happy / Jenny Lawson

For your sibling with a kid who's struggling in school...
Thinking Organized / Rhonna Gordon

For the dad who thinks feminism is for women only...
Feminism Is for Everybody / bell hooks

For your aunt and uncle who're constantly bickering...
Blamestorming / Rob Kendall

For your health-conscious, foodie brother-in-law...
In Defense of Food / Michael Pollan 

For the mother who puts everyone else first... 
Too Nice for Your Own Good / Duke Robinson

For your brother who needs a bit of inspiration...
This is How / Augusten Burroughs

For your father-in-law who loves a good mystery...
Knights in White Satin / Philip DiPirro

For your sister who's against ever marrying...
Spinster / Kate Bolick

For your aunt who's self-identifies as a dog mom...
Inside of a Dog / Alexandra Horowitz

For the cousin still working on that novel...
On Writing / Stephen King

For the niece struggling through her 20s...
It's a Wonderful Lie / Emily Franklin

For the aunt who loves daily bits of insight... 
Stay Positive / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your spouse (read it together!)...
Love 2.0 / Barbara L. Frederickson

For the sibling you've not-so-subtly resented for years... 
Forgiveness / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For your parent who's curious about self-improvement...
The Positively Present Guide to Life / Dani DiPirro (me!)

 

FOR KIDS AND TEENAGERS

For your teenage niece / nephew / neighbor / anyone...
Turtles All the Way Down / John Green

For all the kids who adore funny and smart books...
Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt / Ben Clanton

For the teen who needs to get out of her comfort zone...
Surprise Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into the World / Lisa Currie

For the kids and teens who'd rather stay in then go out...
Introvert Doodles / Maureen "Marzi" Wilson

For every child or teen or adult on your list...
Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too / Jomny Sun

For your slightly neurotic niece or nephew...
Owl at Home / Arnold Lobel

For a teenager at odds with her mother...
The Runaway Bunny / Margaret Wise Brown

For the child who's not like his/her siblings...
The Trumpet of the Swan / E.B. White

For the teen who doesn't like standing out... 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky

For the little toddler who's always a bit grumpy...
Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? / Carol McCloud

For the little one who's always daydreaming...
Once Upon a Cloud / Claire Keane

For the middle-schooler adjusting to a new place... 
I Capture the Castle / Dodie Smith

For the teen with a potentially self-destructive friend...
Looking for Alaska / John Green

For the teenage girl who love the broody boys...
The Wind Blows Backward / Mary Downing Hahn

For the girl who needs some modern advice...
Girl Talk / Christie Young

For the little girl who wants a place of her own...
Mandy / Julie Andrews Edwards

For the creative teenager who needs a pick-me-up...
Pick Me Up / Adam J. Kurtz 

For the deep-thinking, graphic-book-loving teen...
Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi

For the teenager always snapping Insta pics...
A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book / Elsie Larson

For the super creative (and a little spooky) kid...
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick / Chris Van Allsburg

For the kid who loves animals more than people...
Guardians of Being / Eckhart Tolle

 

FOR YOUR FRIENDS

For the pal who needs a spiritual boost...
White Hot Truth / Danielle LaPorte

For the antisocial buddy you rarely see...
Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World / Michael Harris

For the super busy boss babe who needs to chill...
Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path / Erin Loechner

For anyone who struggles with anxiety or OCD...
Turtles All the Way Down / John Green

For your friend who loves The Little Prince...
Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too / Jomny Sun

For the friend who's a (not so) secret badass...
Bad Girls Throughout History / Ann Shen

For the friend going through a really tough time...
Loving What Is / Byron Katie

For the always-judging-others friend...
Compassion / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the friend sighing, "I should try meditating..."
You Can Master Meditation / David Fontana

For the friend who needs to dump him/her ASAP...
The No-Contact Rule / Natalie Lue

For the friend who cancels plans to read instead...
Quiet: The Power of Introverts / Susan Cain

For the friend struggling to get pregnant...
The Fairy Rebel / Lynn Reid Banks

For the friend who's scared of (but needs to) change...
Start Where You Are / Meera Lee Patel

For your super creative, artistic, cool friend...
In Progress / Jessica Hische

For the friend who constantly seeks external approval...
I Need Your Love: Is That True? / Byron Katie

For the friend who recently said goodbye to a pup...
Dog Heaven / Cynthia Rylant

For the buddy who's constantly worrying...
The Power of Now / Eckhart Tolle 

For the friend with a rocky mother/daughter relationship... 
Boundaries / Anne Katherine

For your sassy friend who needs a happiness boost...
How to Be Happy, Dammit! / Karen Salmansohn

For your whimsical friend who loves a bit of magic...
The Night Circus / Erin Morgenstern

For a friend who seems like she's really lost...
Wild / Cheryl Strayed

For the friend that still keeps a diary...
The Folded Clock / Heidi Julavits

For the pal that needs to figure out what she wants...
The Desire Map / Danielle LaPorte

For the guy who's always crying over his ex...
The Great Gatsby / F. Scott Fitzgerald

For your feminist friend who feels all the feels...
I Am an Emotional Creature / Eve Ensler

For your buddy who's always searching the next rush...
Hector and the Search for Happiness / François Lelord

 

FOR YOUR COLLEAGUES

For the creative stuck in his comfort zone...
Surprise Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into the World / Lisa Currie

For anyone who doesn't anything remotely creative...
Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives / Adam J. Kurtz

For the coworker filled with ideas (and restless energy!)...
Tinker Dabble Doodle Try / Srini Pillay

For the creative-but-frazzled coworker...
Calm / Michael Acton Smith

For the coworker who needs to follow her passion...
The Crossroads of Should and Must / Elle Luna

For the too-creative-for-this place coworker...
Big Magic / Elizabeth Gilbert

For the coworker who's always super stressed...
Living in the Moment / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the colleague always around adults...
The Little Prince / Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

For someone who needs a bit of motivation...
It's Not How Good You Are... / Paul Arden

For the coworker who's always complaining...
Gratitude / Dani DiPirro (me!)

For the a stylish guy/gal who loves soul-searching...
Style Statement / Danielle LaPorte

For the coworker getting his kids a puppy...
The Puppy Primer / Patricia B. McConnell

For the guy always yelling in his office...
Emotional Agility / Susan David, PhD

For that colleague always looking for gossip...
PostSecret / Frank Warren

For that guy always looking for a project...
The Happiness of Pursuit / Chris Guillebeau

For the colleague always finding the bad stuff...
You Can Be an Optimist / Lucy MacDonald

For the coworker who should run her own business...
#GirlBoss / Sophia Amoruso

For the HR guy who loves analyzing people... 
The Social Animal / David Brooks 

For your colleague who can't choose a lunch spot...
The Paradox of Choice / Barry Schwartz

For the boss who's perpetually stressed out...
Don't Sweat the Small Stuff at Work / Richard Carlson

For the trivia-loving data dude in IT...
The Visual Miscellaneum / David McCandless

For the admin who needs to pursue her dreams...
Now Is The Time To Do What You Love / Nancy Whitney-Reiter

 

I hope this updated list helps you find the perfect book for everyone on your list! (Or, let's be honest, for yourself, 'cause I know you're looking for something for you too!). If you purchase any of the books and enjoy them, don't forget to leave a review on Amazon. It helps authors (like me!) so much. And if you're curious about my books (many of which are sprinkled throughout this list), check out my Amazon Author Page here


Links above are Amazon Affiliate links. For information on affiliate links and other third party programs, click here.  


Play the Hand You're Dealt : Life Lessons from Solitaire


Positively-Present-Solitaire

 

Whenever I'm super stressed and anxious (particularly when I have upcoming doctor's visits or surgeries scheduled), I've noticed that I tend to turn to games like Solitaire, Scrabble, and Boggle. Unlike zoning out with a show or YouTube video, games keep my mind engaged and I have to be paying attention to them (instead of my nagging anxiety-ridden thoughts). I'm actually in a bit of a Scrabble phase right now, but for a good chunk of 2017, I was all about Solitaire. 


And, of course, being me (creator of this fine site that you're reading today, haha), I started noticing some good life lessons as I was playing — and there ended up being a lot more than I would've imagined! 


You can be dealt a bad hand, and still end up winning. You can be dealt a great hand, and still end up losing. 


There's strategy involved, but also a heck of a lot of luck in what cards you're dealt.


You can't focus only on the card you need now; you have to look at the whole game.

Playing a card the first time you see it isn't always the right move. 


You — and only you — are in charge of what you do with the cards you've been dealt.


Sometimes you take winning for granted. More often than not, it's pretty anticlimactic.


A high score is nice, but it's better when you play for the joy of it.

You've got to play the cards you're dealt, whether you like them or not. (Though you can start a new game at any time.)

When you don't rush while playing, you make a lot fewer mistakes. 


Sometimes you know you're going lose, but you just keep playing. (You usually shouldn't.)


If you look, you'll find patterns, but if you're not paying attention, it'll seem like random chaos.


You often lose when you have too many of the same color or number; sameness doesn't win. 


Pay attention how you feel when you win or lose. Your reactions aren't always what you'd expect.


One card can change everything. You can be on the verge of losing, and draw a game-changing card.


I thought about writing more details for each point, but I'm guessing you can figure out how these lessons might apply in real life. (And if you can't, dig deeper — you're just as wise as I am!) And if you haven't played Solitaire (or any other game) in awhile, I highly recommend giving it a try. It can give you mind a break from the incessant thinking (or is that just me?!), while not allowing it to completely zone out, the way it might do with endless Netflix episodes or some other candy-like brain food. If you already are a fellow Solitaire-lover, did I miss any lessons? Anything you've noticed while playing? 

 

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