Is it post-holiday blues, depression, or boredom making you sad?
For some people the first week of January means back to work and their routine, which is a major relief. But for others the first week back is a huge disappointment from a holiday season high. They become depressed and bored, wondering if what they’re feeling is normal. While their friends are making New Year’s resolutions, they are lingering in a feeling of regret and sadness.
Post-holiday blues linger through the holiday and then fade, while boredom comes and goes. However, depression lasts longer than two weeks and is much more intense, limiting the individual’s ability to work, sleep, or function in their day-to-day world. Depression changes your body chemistry whereas post-holiday blues and boredom do not.
If you’re feeling melancholy and you’re not sure why, the best and surest way to get help is to see a mental health counselor. A mental health professional can help diagnosis your situation and give you the tools you need to work through what is causing your pain. If you cannot afford therapy, these 4 suggestions will help gain insight into your feelings.
1. Take an inventory of your self-care. Are you saying yes to everyone else and no to yourself? Are you focused more on pleasing others at the expense of what you personally need? Are you giving a 100% to your job, kids, and partner without taking time for yourself? Choose to take time for yourself by taking a walk instead of volunteering for another project, or sit down to eat a healthy meal instead of grabbing to-go food.
2. Make a list of 50 things you’d love to do. You get bored when you can’t think of anything to do. When you take the time to write a list of things you’d like to do, you always have something enjoyable to do and work toward. Running a marathon or half marathon is a “dream big” goal but working up to it is doable every day. It’s hard to get bored or blue when you have something you’re working toward that excites you.
3. Reach out to a friend and get involved in support groups. Your friends and support network emotionally support you. Having friends is like taking a vitamin every day; they provide a buffer from the harshness of life. Friends remind you of how much you’re cherished; they are a gift you give yourself.
4. Create some structure. Holiday vacations are a nice break from routine but extending them can make you sluggish and unmotivated. We usually don’t eat healthy over the holidays, and we may not exercise. Getting back in the routine slowly and re-introducing healthy food and light exercise is a wonderful way to ease into the New Year and feel better about yourself. Since depression is correlated with foods we eat, reducing the sugar and unhealthy fat in our diet can lighten our mood and make us feel more energetic.
Post-holiday blues won’t last forever. Give yourself a break and take one step at a time into the New Year. If the feelings persist after following a plan for two weeks, seek professional mental health. Depression doesn’t go away, but it can be treated successfully.