The feeling of waking up without an alarm clock and the taste of that glorious Christmas dinner may feel like distant memories already. After spending a wonderful holiday over the Christmas and New Year period, some people feel blue and find it difficult to get back to their daily rhythm.
But although the thought of going back to work may be hard to stomach after the festive season, getting your daily routine back on track may be easier than you think. There is most often just a period of adjustment, while you reacquaint yourself with your day-to-day existence. But until then there's no need to feel resigned to a life that doesn't make you happy.
Below are some suggested steps to get rid of your post winter festive season holiday blues:
1. Find things to look forward to
It might sound unbelievably simple but aside from work we often don’t spend enough time on ourselves. Whether that’s our happiness, our health, or just simply taking a little time away from the things that cause our stress.
You might want to start a new hobby, regular exercise or pamper yourself. An idea is to plan your next holiday! Research into how we experience pleasure and joy has found that longing for something can elicit similar levels of positive emotions as the actual experience of a pleasurable activity, such as a holiday.
2. Change your thinking
Try altering your attitude from the moment your holiday is over and choose to see the benefits of post-holiday time. The good side to the end of the holidays is that you've had a chance to rest, to relax, and to enjoy yourself. The craziness prior to Christmas has ended both at the workplace and at home. The restful time after Christmas and New Year's Eve has hopefully given you the opportunity to do things that are different from your usual routine. And any break in the routine is good for the spirit, providing you with the chance to rejuvenate.
3. Be realistic with your NY goals
January is the time for fresh start and we all love the idea of a brand new year to create new goals. Resolutions can be inspiring, motivational and the reason to work a little bit harder to reach your goal, but if the goal you made is unrealistic you’ll find yourself frustrated, anxious and more likely to be stressed rather than inspired.
If you set the bar too high and you already feel as if you're slipping, don't berate yourself. Instead, look at your resolutions rationally and assess whether they need some tweaking to ensure they're achievable. Think of it as a double checking of the details, and simply fiddle with the fine print!
Resolutions should be converted to goals, and the important thing is to write them down. Breaking them into smaller goals to achieve targets is key. And remember: less is more!
4. Be sociable
Some of the post-holiday season blues might be related to having been around many people over the Christmas break and then suddenly finding yourself surrounded by people you don't know that well, or even by not many people at all.
Hanging out with people you haven't seen in a while or partaking in enjoyable hobbies are things that can keep you busy, so you don't have to dwell on the reality of going back to work. Lift your spirits by staying connected with friends and family, and getting out and about to do activities where other people interact with you.
5. Make healthier choices
After the many indulgences over the holiday period, you may feel a little out of shape and worse for wear in the nutrition department. Eating well and keeping up regular exercise will enhance your mood and help you return to good shape and fitness levels.
Exercise boosts ‘happy hormones’ in the brain known as endorphins, which improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. Engaging in some form of exercise every day, even if it is just going for a short walk outside, is likely to make you feel better both physically and mentally.
In addition, eat food that boosts your serotonin, the hormone of happiness. You can’t directly get serotonin from food, but you can get tryptophan, an amino acid that’s converted to serotonin in your brain. Tryptophan is found primarily in high-protein foods, including polutry and salmon, dairy, bananas and peas.
Cut down on drinking is another step towards adapting a healthy lifestyle. Giving up or cutting down on alcohol could help you sleep better, improve your mood and save you money. What’s not to love?
Last, but not least, expect to enjoy the year ahead and keep a positive frame of mind. If you want to travel, plan your next trip, if you want to meet new people, get a new hobby, if you want to pamper yourself, do more of what makes you happy.
A New Year can be a daunting thought, but it can also be a wonderful way to start anew!
2. Kringelbach M. and Berridge K. Soc Res (New York). 2010;77(2):659–678.