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Got the back-to-work blues? For some, the end of Christmas brings relief

Getting back in the swing of things after the festive period might mean tackling the source of your unhappiness, says psychotherapist Julianne Grima

Martina Borg
6 January 2016, 12:06pm
What is often described as ‘post-holiday blues’ could actually be a sense of sadness or disappointment from failed expectations set for the Christmas period.
What is often described as ‘post-holiday blues’ could actually be a sense of sadness or disappointment from failed expectations set for the Christmas period.
The gifts have been unwrapped, turkeys and cookies have been guzzled down, and people are gradually coming to an awareness that it’s time to pack all the decorations into boxes.

For some, the return to the office is perhaps one of the most difficult experiences of the year, while others welcome the return to routine and normality as the season tends to leave them exhausted, but the fact that psychologists have coined the term ‘post-holiday blues’ to describe this state, is evidence of just how difficult it can be.

Psychotherapist Julianne Grima says that many are actually quite relieved when the time comes to wave Christmas goodbye. “Christmas is in many ways an attack on our senses, not to mention our personal finances,” she said, adding that the festive season leaves many craving the sense of security and safety that their normal routine might give them.

“The Christmas period is generally accompanied by time off from work/school so an argument can be made for the sense of freedom that comes to an end once we return back to our routine,” she said, explaining where these feelings normally stem from.

“During the Christmas period people have a tendency to indulge their whims more than they would ordinarily, we are more likely to binge eat and drink, spend more time out, less sleep.”

Although these events are construed as freedom, Grima cautions that what we may be doing is in fact severely overwhelming and under-nourishing ourselves.

“Going back into the routine might be accompanied with a sense of low energy, sadness and poor concentration, because the reality might be that we actually need a holiday from the holiday, given our over-indulgence,” she said.

And what is often described as ‘post-holiday blues’ could actually be a sense of sadness or disappointment from failed expectations set for the Christmas period.

“Given that Christmas is traditionally and might I add stereotypically, a time for family and friends, anyone experiencing problems in either of those departments, is more likely to feel lonely and depressed during the period,” Grima said.

As a result the blues people feel might be a continuation of feelings from the previous year.

Alternately, Grima offers a perhaps slightly uncomfortable reason for having such feelings of sadness besides a need to recover from a hectic holiday period.

“Put simply, in some cases, the routine you need to get back into is the actual source of your unhappiness,” she said. “In which case, it might be time for a change.”

Top tips to beat those blues from around the web:

Make Plans: Giving yourself something to look forward to is one of the keys to avoiding feeling sad and hopeless about your current situation. Seeing an empty calendar might be somewhat intimidating, so try filling it up with even the smallest of events.

Get Healthy: Starting a new exercise routine or choosing a healthier diet can both motivate you and increase energy levels. It can also be a way for you to appease any guilty feelings you might have for over indulging during the festive period

Stay connected with your loved ones: Although withdrawing might come naturally after such a saturation of parties and socialising, making efforts to keep in touch with your loved ones can go a long way.

Do something new: Perhaps learning a new language, making more money, volunteering or even changing careers, is Web MD’s suggestion to avoiding that ‘been there, done that’ feeling.

De-clutter and reorganise yourself to give yourself a new, fresher beginning

Seek help if you feel like your feelings of loneliness and sadness can’t seem to let up, or are quite literally drowning you.

Martina Borg focuses on lifestyle and society issues