So did you go back to work this week? How was it?
To be fair, I was okay. I had a better state of mind, and whilst I was battling some sort of viral infection, I felt okay about going back to work. I think it helped that I was working from home this week and only had to roll out of bed and walk to the work desk I set up in my living room (there was such a huge mindset shift in having a separate workspace area, as opposed to having my desk in close proximity to my bed, let me tell you!).
Apparently, post-holiday blues are now a recognised thing. According to verywellmind, post-holiday blues usually refers to the short-lived mental distress, anxiety and sadness after the holiday season. I’ve always just used it to refer to my reticence about going back to the daily grind. Of course there were days when I really could not face going back to work – the whole getting up, getting in the shower, getting dressed, commuting to work and sitting at my desk was a bit much to contemplate after the holidays. Of course, like everyone else who had a job, I did the adult thing, dragged myself out of bed and sternly gave myself a telling off (verbally, in front of the mirror and mentally, still sometimes in front of the mirror).
After reading through several articles, there seems to be an agreement amongst mental health professionals that the holidays can have an effect on a person’s psychopathology. In the run-up to the holidays (especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Diwali), there is the frenetic energy of preparing for it, all those tasks on your to-do list to get things done for friends and family, for all the meals, for the gift-giving, treats for visitors and the children. Then there are those days that you are enveloped in feel-good feelings where you are loved-up, relaxed (or in a contstant state of stress as family or social situations can be stressful!), or marinating in dopamine-producing experiences.
Then of course, there is the huge thump of a landing once the holidays are over; you are back, right smack in the middle of the daily grind. the days are grey, damp, cold and depressing, and everything that made you happy might not be around you anymore. I love Margaret Wehrenberg’s suggestions on Psychology Today for beating the post-holiday blues: to start with, it’s the mindset shift that whatever you’re going through is a change in stimulation and, more often than not, it’s less stimulation so you need to get used to that (so be kind to yourself and allow yourself to adjust); then it’s physical activity (which I think, in my case is finally unpacking completely and finally finding all my comfy sweats because apart from them being comfortable but presentable lounge wear, they’re also warm!); following that you go through a “looking forward” exercise – not resolution-making or massive life goals-setting (because that’s just daunting and you don’t need daunting whilst dealing with the blues!), just planning or thinking about something that you want to do in the new year (in my case it’s getting a lovely tea set and ingredients so that I can invite my friends over and have tea and cake with them in the new place); and finally, you steer clear of any holiday-related reminders, like watching Christmas movies because the post-holiday blues is a rabbit-hole that you don’t want to, like Alice, want to inadvertently fall into.
It’s going to be a difficult few weeks for all of us, perhaps more for some than others. Be kind to yourself (it’s a reminder that has almost become a personal mantra) and if things become difficult, remember to talk about it. I am reminded of a meme that I often see on Instagram: if you’re not speaking out, you’re storing it, and that gets heavy.