Once the holiday season comes to an end and it’s time to go back to our normal routine, it’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling strangely down in the dumps. The concept of “‘post-holiday blues” has become something of a cliché, but it’s a real phenomenon that has a profound effect on millions of Americans. If you find yourself feeling blue these days, don’t despair – there are practical steps you can take to start feeling better again.
Take the time to think about what’s getting you down
The phenomenon of post-holiday blues can actually have a wide variety of causes. When you are feeling blue, it’s often hard to think rationally about what you can do to get yourself feeling better. Some of the more common reasons people feel depressed after the holidays include:
- Relative loneliness: During the holidays you were surrounded by friends and family a lot more than usual, but once the partying is over and your life returns to a routine, you can experience withdrawal symptoms. If this applies to you, look at ways of spending more time with people whose company you enjoy or avenues for forming new friendships.
- Finances: Did you over-spend during the holidays? Many of us tend to live beyond our means during this time. Once the credit card bills start coming in, a variety of emotions can come up: guilt, anger, shame, hopelessness … Very few of us are comfortable talking or thinking about our finances. Use this as a learning opportunity. Explore your values and your relationship with money. Perhaps there’s a small change you are willing to make that could make you feel more financially empowered.
- Something is missing in your life: Christmas time can be glorious, but if you are fundamentally dissatisfied with your life, the temporary enjoyment only serves to emphasize what is lacking the rest of the year. Ask yourself: What am I dissatisfied with? Am I spending my time on things that actually make me happy? What would make me happy?
Fresh air and exercise
Of course, the right time to exercise throughout the year! However, it is true that when the weather is cold and rainy, most people inevitably spend more time indoors. Apart from the effects that this may have on your physical health, it’s been scientifically proven that sedentary habits are linked to depression. When you are feeling blue, it’s natural to want to curl up on the couch, but in the long run, this only makes you feel worse. When the weather seems more bearable (even if only temporarily), put on some warm clothes and take a brisk walk. If you keep it up for a week, you may be surprised at how much better you feel.
Keep an eye on things
It’s normal to feel down from time to time, especially in January. However, if you feel depressed for weeks on end, then it may be a sign that something deeper is wrong and it’s time to seek help. One of the common effects of feeling depressed is losing track of time, making it hard to tell if you’ve really been depressed for weeks or it just feels that way. Make a brief diary note each day about how you felt and look back on it after two or three weeks. If you find that it’s been unremitting gloom, then you might want to consider professional help.