Gabby Sliwka, 8 , smiles while sledding at Nelson's Field in Bristol, Conn., on Jan. 2. / Mike Orazzi, AP
New Year's celebrations are over, winter is fully upon us, and perhaps you're just now facing the prospect of returning to work after days off for the holidays.
Feeling a little blue just thinking about it?
"In a realistic way, expect that you are not necessarily going to be thrilled going back into the office," said Stephen Josephson, a cognitive behavioral psychologist. "It's a kind of erratic, exhausting time but we need to tolerate life and roll with the punches."
Unlike more serious cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which causes depression in those who suffer from it during this time of year, a common occurrence called "the winter slump" impacts people during colder months as well, Josephson said.
Although having a little less energy in winter is completely normal, according to Josephson, here are some healthy ways to fight it.
Let go of the negativity. Instead of dwelling on negative situations that you may have encountered while visiting loved ones during the holidays, Josephson says to drop it. Some of those "relationships are not as healthy or functional as we like," he said, but urges people not to obsess over "negative stuff like past regrets."
Don't set unrealistic expectations about the year. DePaul University psychologist Joseph Ferrari says people often get into a winter slump because they set unrealistic expectations that they think can be fulfilled immediately. Instead, Ferrari says people need to be more realistic about New Year's resolutions. "It's all about the small, baby steps," he said. "People try to create large goals, but in reality, they are long-term goals."
Also, keep track of your progress, says clinical psychologist and author Pauline Wallin. "At the beginning of your journey, focus on how far you have come. Then toward the end, focus on how much is left," Wallin said.
Increase your activity. Josephson recommends that you do what you love or try to do active things that you normally wouldn't. "Get out there and be more social and help your community," he said. "This will also make you feel even better."
Spend time with people you love. Josephson says people who don't make plans or spend enough time with friends or family tend to feel more isolated and alone. Taking a fun trip with loved ones may be a good way to bond.
Finally, improve your self-talk skills. Fulfilling our goals after New Year's can be challenging. Wallin says we need to watch what we say to ourselves. For example, saying, 'I can't go on vacation this year' sounds discouraging whereas saying, 'I'm not going on vacation since I need to put money down on a new car or house' is more positive and goal-oriented.
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