It can happen to anyone: the blues, seasonal affective disorder, post-holiday depression. After blasting ahead at full-speed, now you’re experiencing more of a crawl-like motion that’s beginning to get you down.
The post-holiday blues can be real with the emotional let-down that can happen after the festivities end.
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The end of the holiday season and the long, dreary days of winter can be challenging for a lot of people—even those who don’t have clinical seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or depression.
“Somebody who’s just experiencing sort of like seasonal blues might have some good days and some bad days [similar to] somebody with depression,” says Elise Hall, MSW, LICSW, a clinical social worker and therapist in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. “Even though there might be bright moments throughout their day, [they’re] feeling pretty bad consistently.”
We’ve come up with some simple strategies to cope with those feelings during the cold (or not so cold) winter months by getting active, discovering passion projects and embracing the season.
Try a workout
Whether at home or at the gym, exercise is a commonly recognized and effective mood enhancer, explains Hall. “Exercise just really releases natural chemicals in the brain that have an antidepressant quality to them.” Try a new class, or get outside for a run or walk if the weather allows.
Keep your resolutions realistic
Most people know what it feels like to choose lofty goals, only to come crashing back to earth when those things don’t happen. Keep focused on what you can attain, says Taz Bhatia, MD, an integrative health expert and author of Super Woman RX. “Unrealistic New Year’s resolutions can make someone feel like a failure, but small, definable goals can work to your advantage. It gives us something to focus on post parties, and it’s a great way to jump into the new year.” (Here are the top health mistakes people make in January.)
Go on a vacation
Get away from the stress of the short days and plan a trip—it’s good to have something to look forward to. “Vacations can also improve our mental health by reducing depression and anxiety,” according to the American Psychological Association. “Vacations can improve mood and reduce stress by removing people from the activities and environments that they associate with stress and anxiety.” Here’s why taking a shorter vacation is good for you.
Keep yourself busy with friends and fun
Another thing to look forward to? Time with friends, or self-care. “I think creating joy in the weeks that follow the holidays is key,” says Dr. Taz. “Book another dinner with friends, a massage, or start your self-care. Staying around positive people makes a difference as well.” Plan virtual Zoom dance parties. Or order the same food subscription box as your friend and cook the same meal together, virtually.
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