Integrative Health Psychology

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5 Tips for Beating the New-Year Blues

This may seem like “old news” to many, but if we all got it, there’d be no need to say it again. So, for whatever it’s worth, below are belated but well-intended suggestions for getting it together mentally and physically for 2011.

After the holidays are over, people often start to notice the “New-Year blues.”  Also known as “post-holiday” or “I can’t believe it’s still so cold and snowy and when will it ever be warm again?”-blues. I think this is true both for people who struggle with mood issues in general and also for those who normally feel relatively emotionally balanced.  The end of holiday festivities (or tensions brought to light during them), coupled with shorter days, all of those post-holiday credit card bills, and the dirty-snow stains splashed across the good slacks despite wearing the high boots can make it feel very , very difficult to stave off the fatigue and inertia that often set in this time of year.

 For some, these recommendations will sound obvious, but I think they’re worth stating nonetheless.

  1.  Even if it’s really, really cold out, bundle up and get outside for at least 10-15 minutes. Your brain craves sunlight, and what you get through your windows is insufficient.
  2. Related to number 1, move! Every day, or on most days. Even if it’s just to take a brisk, 15-20 minute walk. If the weather seems intolerably cold, mall walk. Even if you feel goofy. Or suburban. If you have a gym membership, use it. This is not about fighting off the holiday cookie weight so much as it is about getting your blood pumping. We know from the scientific literature that exercise is mood-elevating. Plus, it’s good for you in general. You know this.  So do it. Even if you hate it. I’ve had patients tell me “I just can’t – I’m too tired to do anything.” And I absolutely believe the second part, if not the first. If 15-20 minutes feels too overwhelming to commit to, fine. Agree to walk for one minute. Just one. I guarantee you, after taking 5-plus to get bundled up, once you get outside and get over the initial annoyance and resistance, you will not want to run back inside until you’ve gotten your money’s worth.
  3. Schedule – and attend – your annual physical. Again, nothing earth-shattering to this recommendation, except for many (and you know who you are), you’d brave a nor’easter before letting your roots grow in or nails look chipped. (Yes, I have been there myself.) But you’ll put off that annual physical. Don’t. Talk to your doctor about anything that feels out of balance. If this includes mood, don’t leave without a referral to someone who can help with this issue specifically. If your symptoms include depression and/or lethargy, it’s also worth ruling out a thyroid or other physical problem that may be bringing you down.
  4. If your insurance covers this, see a registered dietician/credentialed nutritionist. Discuss your current diet and supplement regimen – including herbal and others – honestly. Being deficient in certain B vitamins, among other nutrients, has been associated with mood symptoms and fatigue.
  5. Schedule time with those who make you feel good! And keep these appointments as well. Again, when we feel sluggish or down, we’re more likely to put off making or cancel appointments, including social engagements. Schedule time with friends, attend activities with a spiritual or religious or civic or other group of people whom you find supportive, uplifting, interesting.

 Give the above a try, and this winter should feel more manageable than usual. And again, nothing shocking here: When you feel more emotionally balanced, everything thing else will seem better too.

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This entry was posted on January 29, 2011 by in Health-Related Posts and tagged , , .

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