The days immediately following the holiday season can be a blue period for many - as a busy season of festive decorations, special traditions and fun times spent with family and friends comes to a close, it is common to experience a significant drop in mood. It is no wonder that many people report feelings of sadness or depression with the return to everyday routines after the holidays.
Parkridge Valley’s Angela Gross offers some tips on how to avoid post-holiday blues.
· Adjust to the New Year gradually. It’s not necessary to take down all the holiday decorations immediately – give yourself permission to keep your festive materials up for a little while longer if taking them down all at once seems overwhelming. It may be a good idea to ease into the process of ‘un-decorating’ your living space. “Some people find that by spreading the tasks over several days – packing up the tree one day, and the rest of the holiday things another - it gives them time to adjust,” Ms. Gross said.
· Plan for the New Year. Yes, the holidays are over, but it’s important to remember that life is about more than the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. The beginning of the year is a great time for making new, healthy habits and planning new experiences. If you like to entertain, try to orchestrate a party or a night out with friends or family early in 2012. If you like to travel, plan a trip. “It is easier to cope with change if it means that people have something to look forward to,” Ms. Gross said. Keep a positive attitude – “Optimism is always important – envision yourself as happy and successful in the New Year, and you will be more likely to experience happiness and success.”
· Get moving and see the (sun)light. Yes, it is winter – the days are short and the weather is cold and/or nasty. Don’t let that stop you from taking a walk around the neighborhood or hitting the gym. Multiple studies have shown a link between exercise and an improved mood or sense of well-being. “Exercise has been shown to help make people happier as well as healthier,” Ms. Gross said. Try to see some daylight if you can – take a few minutes to step outside during your lunch break at work or position yourself next to an unshaded window while at the office or at home. This can help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder, a mood disorder thought to be caused by a lack of exposure to natural light during the winter months.
· Seek help if you need it. If, despite your best efforts, you just can’t seem to shake your feelings of depression or if your symptoms are interfering with your work or personal life, seek professional help. “A counselor or therapist can discuss your feelings with you and help you improve your overall quality of life,” Ms. Gross said.
The post-holiday blues are common, but with determination and a commitment to bettering yourself, it is possible to avoid or minimize feelings of depression or sadness. Focus on the positive, take the steps needed to improve your well-being, and you can have a happy and healthy 2012.