My mother, intrigued, informed me the other day that Martin Luther King weekend marks what many psychologists call the beginning of the holiday blues.

Essentially, this is because all of the joyful winter holidays and festivities have come to a close until around Valentine’s Day (which has its own obvious complications and may not boost everyone’s spirits).  So, what can we do about this?

The solution I propose today is to celebrate things that are important to you.

This may sound a little stupidly simple, like many coping skills therapists propose (I swear if you tell me to count to 10 one more time…), however I believe this mindset is really important.  It seems that we are becoming less and less ceremonious as the years roll by.

While this may appear to have benefit in some ways such as modesty, I believe it ultimately does us a disservice.  In a world that is so quick to heap misfortunate and unhappiness upon the human soul, I believe it is extra important to celebrate the things we are grateful for, that bring us joy, that we have accomplished, and that we cherish.

For instance, there are no rules against taking an entire day on the weekend to celebrate the fact that you’ve been at your company for a year or recently received a promotion.  There are also no rules against celebrating friendiversaries, anniversaries with our partners (which I absolutely recommend you do because it helps keep the fire alive), or special events with our families such as reunions that happen around the same time each year.

I’ve even had friends, whom I love with all my heart and always deserve special mentions in my blog as they help me do what I do, use any excuse to celebrate such as the winter solstice or the release of a new video game. 

This is because we are celebrating life when we do this.  Celebrating that life is good and has many fantastic and mystical qualities is never trite or a waste of time.  Moreover, if it brings a bunch of people together to love on one another, what is there to hold in disdain?

Counting Things We’re Grateful For

Celebration, especially of things or events unique to us, help us also maintain a mindset of gratitude.  Brene Brown in Daring Greatly discusses how people who are resilient oftentimes work at cultivating this mindset.  What easier way to cultivate gratitude than by realizing we have more to celebrate that we may have realized?

This is a side note to readers who may be struggling with depression and other mental health obstacles.  You may consider celebration as a form of the coping skill opposite action which is where we do opposite of what we’re feeling even if we don’t feel like it.  Remember, behavior often changes feelings, not the other way around.  So even if you feel like you don’t have anything to celebrate or that you don’t want to celebrate anything, I would encourage you even more to give this a try.

Ideas of How to Celebrate

Not every celebration has to be as big as say Christmas and Hanukah and New Years Eve.  However, I would argue that there is nothing wrong with decorating one’s residence and inviting people over to share in whatever you’re celebrating.  There is nothing wrong with gift exchanges with our friends or co-workers in summer to celebrate a full moon either.  There is also nothing wrong with taking a personal holiday to do something you love for the entire day on your own.

The ways we can celebrate are only limited by our imagination.  Of course, holidays are holidays for a reason and if every day were a party, they would likely lose their fun factor.  Yet, simply because we are officially in a season of fewer holidays, it doesn’t mean that we can’t harness some of the fun of the holiday season in the things we choose to celebrate.

Marking Less Enjoyable Occasions

In addition to celebrating joyful events such as a marriage, first date, promotion at work, or graduating from college, I believe it is also important to honor the other side as well.  These are anniversaries such as deaths in the family and other losses.  For example, I will always remember the time I moved to Colorado as it was rife with hardship, trauma, and difficulty.  I may do something like write a letter to the people that hurt me, carry a token with me that reminds me of those times, or just spend some time being sensitive to my own emotions and possibly have a good cry.

Just like how it is important to celebrate the good things, it’s also important to honor the difficult things.

These are the events that shape our lives over time.  These are the markings of our personal histories and our own cultures.  Every life is wonderfully complex and simply because most of us will never have holidays in honor of our lives does not make any life less worthy of celebrating.  Even if you only use your birthday and other, regular holidays to celebrate your life, I encourage you to do so unapologetically as you are unique, previous, and worthy.