The holidays are a welcome disruption to our daily routine and many of us look forward to the break as well as the indulgences that come with the holiday season. But it seems as though it doesn’t come without a cost. Many of us are hit with the post-holiday blues as we attempt to get back into our regular routine. Oftentimes this feels like a holiday hangover.
So, if you’re feeling low this month, or are still struggling to get back into the swing of real life, know you’re not alone. According to a British study, 44 per cent of adults believe they suffer from the January blues, and 52 per cent said that during the early part of the month, they would only be at work in body, but not “in mind”. So, let’s talk about how to manage the post-holiday blues.
Why do we experience post-holiday blues?
There are many possible causes of this holiday hangover. Disruption to our regular sleeping habits makes it challenging to get up in the mornings and we are likely to have eaten more and exercised less so our bodies are feeling lethargic as well as our minds.
As humans, we are innately hedonistic and naturally gravitate toward things that feel pleasurable, enjoyable, and evoke a positive emotional state. We are also master acclimatizers. We physiologically and behaviourally adjust to whatever environment we are placed in. This is true for both relaxing situations or intense work situations. So, the lack of motivation we may feel when getting back to work is much more attributable to the lower energy level and reduced focus that the body adjusted to than it is to anything else.
So, what can we do to manage the effects of the blues?
Stay active, stay focused.
Psychologist and MyWorkplaceHealth consultant Dr. Melanie Badali says that “although this is often the last thing people want to do at this time of year, especially if you live in a place where it’s dark and rainy like me,” increasing your physical activity can help you feel better and less tired. Badali says another strategy is changing your perspective: If you want to watch Netflix, then watch Netflix and view that activity as an act of self-care rather than an act of sloth.
“If you have some downtime after the holidays, this is normal,” Badali says. “Be kind to yourself and remember hangovers do not last forever.”
Take care of yourself.
We often over-indulge over the holidays and this can take a toll on our bodies. Not only does getting back into your exercise routine help significantly, but getting back to all of our regular routines helps as well. This includes healthy eating as well as sleep.
Plan things to look forward to.
Getting back to our everyday lives can suddenly feel boring and monotonous, so plan something in the next week or two that you can look forward to. Plan a social coffee with a friend or a date night with your partner.
January is a tough month for many of us, particularly those who are prone to or already experiencing depression. Remember to be gentle with yourself and know that the month will end and we are already trending toward longer days.
To read more about how to get back into work after an extended vacation check out our blog.
If you’re really struggling with the blues this month and it is affecting your ability to perform your daily tasks you may want to consider seeking support. Reach out to a friend or a loved one and let them know how you’re feeling or consider professional support. You can easily start by contacting Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych. & Associates today. A little more unsure? Or don’t feel like you have enough time? Consider virtual (online) counselling as an alternative to traditional online therapy.