The holiday season is over. For many, that simple statement of fact can cause real, debilitating feelings of depression. A survey conducted in 2015 reveals that in fact 64% of people experience feelings of depression after the holiday season is over. That means it’s not just a common problem, but something of a norm. There are more people who get depressed after Christmas than those who don’t.
Like most people, I love the holidays. It’s not just Christmas Day or New Years Eve, it’s the entire month-long season of generosity, good cheer, family gatherings, and magical traditions that makes me excited for the month of December every single year. It’s not about a particular day or particular celebrations so much as it is about the whole atmosphere of the season. It feels warm. Adults become kids again. It feels like the whole world is coming together to be merry all at once.
It’s no wonder why January hits so hard. For many, finances are less than ideal after a month of buying gifts and hosting gatherings. Those who had time off are thrust back into the world of long work weeks and weekends that feel too short. Perhaps the worst part is that we are at the longest possible point away from returning to the magic of the Christmas season. And all those New Year’s resolutions – I’m already upset and I agreed to EXERCISE? The horror!
So what can you do to get the January blues out of your head and out of your heart? Firstly, it would be irresponsible of me not to backtrack on my joke about the horrors of exercise. Exercise is actually one of the best natural treatments for depression symptoms. It doesn’t even need to be vigorous. I myself have started walking to the post office to get the mail, rather than grabbing it on the way driving to or from home. I particularly enjoy walking at night – highly recommended if you know the proper safety protocols and feel safe doing so. It’s calm and a great way to clear you head.
Another great thing to do is to look for new things to look forward to. Perhaps you have a family gathering planned in a few weeks time, or a vacation planned in the spring. If nothing that exciting is planned, try looking for a new TV series or a few good movies to look forward to watching. My wife and I have shows that we like to watch before bed. Having such things to look forward to during the workday is very uplifting.
Despite depressed feelings, people also sometimes get renewed energy in the new year. The holiday season is relaxing, enjoyable, and filled with cheer and generosity, but it is not always productive. Work performance can get lax, as can things such as house rules and routines. A new year can mean new beginnings. Tackling things you have been putting off can be a great way to lift your spirits. Productivity brings many positive feelings. An example of this could be finding new, more efficient ways to do chores so that you have more time for yourself during the week. Another example could be hammering out specific days where the whole family is expected to eat dinner together at the table and catch up on life, if you have fallen into the habit of having meals in front of the TV.
Above all, don’t forget about self-care. Some people get into such a rut of sadness that they actually forget what they enjoy. Take a few minutes and figure it out. Ask yourself what you enjoy, what preparation you need to make your self-care activities happen, and what days and times you can dedicate to self-care on a regular basis. These could be things like taking a bubble bath, searching online for new music to listen to, or taking up a hobby such as puzzles or woodworking.
As I write these last few words, I realize that one thing that is sure to brighten my January is continuing to connect with readers and help provide a voice in the community. Maybe reading the newspaper with a good cup of coffee can be one of your self-care activities – it certainly is one of mine. No one knows what 2023 will bring in terms of news and events in North Grenville, but I look forward to finding out together.
Happy New Year!