The visitors have returned home, the leftovers in the fridge have been tossed, the kids are back in school and you have work first thing Monday morning. After the excitement of the holidays, the return to normal can make even the most jolly of folks a little depressed.
Without the holiday festivities to distract us, the winter months can suddenly seem very gray and drab. If you find yourself feeling blue after the holiday season, you’re not alone. It’s normal to start feeling down as the flurry of the holidays winds to a lull. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to beat the blues, and they don’t need to cost you any money.
Here are some simple tips to use this winter that may help lift your spirits:
Stay social – not social media
The holidays are centered around social gatherings, such as parties, big meals and traveling to see family or friends you haven’t seen in a long time. After such a flurry of social activity, you may find yourself feeling lonely when it’s all over. But there’s no rule that says your social calendar needs to be empty after Jan. 1. Plan some activities with a friend. They don’t need to cost money. Take a walk or watch a movie at home with a friend or family member. Talking on the phone can be a great social outlet as well.
The important thing is to talk to someone verbally, not through texting or social media. Social media apps often give us the illusion that we’re being social, but in reality it’s not the same thing as truly talking with someone. Planning a fun social outing can help remedy the letdown after the holiday parties have ended.
Physical activity is one of the best things you can do for yourself, especially when you’re feeling a little down. When we exercise, our bodies release endorphins. Endorphins are natural chemicals in the brain that help trigger a positive mood.
If you’ve got the blues, get out there and get some exercise. It may be tempting to veg on the couch with your favorite show all day, but before you begin the binge watching, try some physical activity first to see if getting the body moving and the blood flowing doesn’t help lift your mood. You may be surprised at how good you’ll feel after your workout.
You don’t need to pay for a gym membership or an expensive exercise machine. Get outside for a quick run or walk. Stretch or do yoga in your living room, or try an aerobics class on YouTube for free.
Focus on realistic resolutions
New Year’s resolutions give us something to focus on after the holiday parties are over. It’s great to have goals and something to look forward to, but be careful not to become too perfectionist and hard on yourself about achieving your resolutions. Unattainable goals only cause stress and feelings of failure. Instead, focus on realistic goals that you can actually work toward and feel good about.
Start by writing out specific and measurable goals you can realistically achieve. This will give you the best shot at success. For example, instead of making a vague goal of saving enough money to retire early, try setting a goal to save an extra $100 per month. This way you can see your success each month as you save money and build that nest egg.
Look forward to the next big thing
Thanksgiving through New Years isn’t the only fun season on the calendar. After the holidays, there is still plenty to look forward to with excitement and optimism.
Start planning your next vacation or what you want to do on spring break. And there are still upcoming long holiday weekends to consider in January and February, such as President’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday. Planning a simple family outing, staycation or dinner party with friends can refocus your thoughts. Weekend day trips can be done on the cheap and give you something to spur your spirits.
Boost your mood with vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D, known as the “sunshine vitamin,” have been linked to depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. Of course, in the winter months, exposure to sunshine can be a little hard to come by. Eating foods that are rich in vitamin D or taking a supplement is an affordable option that may help improve your mood until spring.