The post-Christmas period can leave many of us feeling down. Back-to-work blues, an empty social calendar, festive weight gain and a dwindling bank balance can all contribute to a general feeling of melancholy. Thankfully, there are many ways to get your spirits back up after the festive period. Here are our tips for beating the back-to-work blues.
Make a plan
After the excitement of Christmas, going back to a regular, mundane routine is enough to lower anybody's spirits. A good way to alleviate this feeling of ennui is to create something to look forward to. Depending on your budget and lifestyle, this could be anything from planning a night out to booking a trip away. Whatever you plan, make sure it is something you will really look forward to, then start counting down the days.
Exercise your funny bone
Laughter has been proven to be an extremely effective mood booster; releasing endorphins which instantly raise spirits and give a feeling of wellbeing. To help raise your spirits, grab a funny DVD or book and spend a few hours exercising your laughter muscles.
Brave your fears
If you are feeling listless and uninspired following the Christmas period, there is nothing guaranteed to energize you so much as stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a few risks. Make a commitment to doing one thing a week (or day) that makes you feel scared and takes you out of your comfort zone. Whether it is something small (like starting a conversation with a stranger) or big (like emigrating to another country), conquering your fears is guaranteed to put you in a positive mood.
Although feeling glum is unlikely to put you in the mood to exercise, getting up and active is actually one of the best things you can do. Exercise not only releases mood-boosting endorphins, but if weight gain is one of the things getting you down following Christmas it will help you to quickly shift those excess kilos. Get out in the fresh air for a run, or try a spot of yoga or Tai Chi to help put you in a better frame of mind.
Watch what you eat
While it may be tempting to bury your sorrows under piles of junk food, a healthy diet is actually much more effective at helping you feel good. Some mood-boosting foods to stock up on are those containing B vitamins (which help the brain produce serotonin) such as wholegrains, nuts and marmite, and those containing Omega-3 fatty acids (which can help lift depression), such as oily fish or flaxseeds.
If you find that you are fixated on your mood post Christmas, it is a good idea to distract yourself by putting the focus on to others. Take some time out to do some volunteer work, or if you are short of time make a commitment to doing one small act of kindness a day such as listening to a friend's problem or smiling at a stranger. Not only will helping others distract you from your own feelings but it will help you put things into perspective. As an added bonus, smiling is contagious and helping others feel happy will also put you in a better mood.
Perk up your social life
Spending time with others can be one of the greatest mood boosters, but you can't always rely on everybody else to make the plans. If your social life could do with a boost following Christmas, it's time to get proactive. Pick up the phone and give someone a call or arrange to visit someone who lives a long way away. Alternatively, take up a hobby or join a club and start meeting some new people to spend time with.
Get your finances in order
One of the reasons many people feel blue after Christmas is because they have worries over their finances – and the damage Christmas has wreaked on them – hanging over their head. Rather than worrying about it, sit down and sort out your financial situation. See what shape you are in financially and, if necessary, set yourself a budget for the next few months or so. This may make you feel even worse right now but going on in ignorance means that your worries will only eat away at you. Face your finances, work out how to move forward, and then you can move on happier.
Ring the changes
If the thought of going back to your regular routine is really depressing you, perhaps you should see this as a sign you need to make some changes. Although everyone feels a bit down about returning to work, if the thought is really making you blue then maybe it's time to think about changing your job.
Alternatively, perhaps you need to think about ditching another aspect of your lifestyle that is making you unhappy; your partner, perhaps, or those extra pounds in weight.
Look at what needs to be changed then make a plan to tackle it in small steps. Instead of despairing over the end of Christmas, go in to the new year motivated and ready to kick-start your best year yet.