The run up to Christmas basically begins around the start of September nowadays with minor rumblings of discontent as businesses look to cash in as early as possible on the lucrative festive period.
We jump straight into a sea of twinkly fairy-lights and mulled wine, while our summer holiday tans are still intact.
Then, suddenly, it’s all snatched away and we’re staring at the bleak stretch of time which is January. It’s still winter, but there isn’t the fuzzy, glittery air of excitement anymore.
Worst of all, we’re supposed to detox and run across fields because it’s no longer acceptable to spend your afternoons curled up in front of The Wizard of Oz with a big box of Quality Street…
Christmas rarely meets its lofty expectations and the disappointment of the anti-climax can be genuinely profound.
Even as an adult, I’ll admit I feel a very strong sense of sadness when putting away the Christmas decorations.
This always gives me a very forlorn feeling of things coming to an end, even though I should be thinking of this time as an exciting new start to a brand new year.
Dr Louise Waddington, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Director at Cardiff University, told UNILAD how people can experience a mood slump post-Christmas:
The evidence, which admittedly is out of date – pre-social media, strongly suggests many people feel less depressed in the run up to Christmas and correspondingly more depressed afterwards.
We don’t know why people feel better before Christmas but there are suggestions it may be because people are more socially active, feel a sense of companionship from Christmas being a widely shared cultural event and are perhaps distracted from their usual concerns.
There are also suggestions, despite everything, we retain a sense of hope Christmas will somehow make things better.
Dr Waddington continued:
After Christmas it’s back to business as usual and perhaps worse if we had hopes around Christmas which were not fulfilled?
This might be made worse nowadays by social media images of successful Christmases leading some people to appraise their own situation more negatively: other people are doing better than me, it’s not fair etc.
Of course, for many, there are financial pressures which come home with force after the Christmas season.
I guess the overall message is ‘don’t believe other people’s Facebook pictures’ and maybe ‘stand by for a crash after Christmas’
Although we may wish it could be Christmas every day, we can’t all be like the people who literally celebrate the holiday every single day of the year.
Not only would this be highly impractical, it would also make the Christmas season much less special.
So how do we pull ourselves out of the post-Christmas slump, ready for the non-festive challenges of the year ahead?
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information for Mind – a mental health charity – has offered the following advice for January mood-boosting, telling UNILAD:
Mindfulness can help us to better understand our thoughts and feelings.
It’s really easy to rush through life on auto-pilot, not really taking in our surroundings – missing out on the good means life isn’t as rich as it might be, and missing out on the bad means we’re not in such a good position to take action.
The first step to practising mindfulness is taking notice of your thoughts, feelings, body sensations and the world around you, imagine your thoughts coming into your mind and floating away again.
Stephen recommends taking time out to big yourself up, as well as making sure to socialise when possible:
Try writing down the things you like about your life, your personality, your skills and the things you have.
Take your time and aim for 50 different things. If you ever feel down or worried, go back to this list and remind yourself of the positive.
There’s strong evidence which indicates feeling close to and valued by other people, is a fundamental human need and one which contributes to mental wellbeing.
Why not ring a friend you’ve been meaning to catch up with or take up a new hobby or interest where you’ll meet new people?
As clichéd as it may sound, making sure to take care of your health and wellbeing can really help set you up for the rest of the year.
Make sure to get enough sleep, fresh air, fun and exercise – I personally hate running, so if you’re like me, you could maybe take up trampolining or rollerblading instead to ensure the year kicks off with a positive start?
If you’re feeling down or struggling, it’s always best to speak to someone – don’t suffer in silence. Visit the Mind website or call the Mind Infoline on 0300 123 3393 for further advice.
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.