We are practically through the 1st month of the year and well past the holidays, how are you? How are you REALLY? Most of us experience some type of let down after the holidays but then bounce back and fall into our normal routine. But a large number of us DO NOT. We might have lingering feelings of disappointment, grief, and sadness. Today I want to share a bit about how to overcome the blues.
How to Overcome the Blues
Let’s start with a disclaimer. While I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (have been since 1997) this article is not designed to diagnose nor treat a mental illness. If your feelings of sadness interfere with your life to the point that you are no longer able to participate in your regular activities, please see your doctor or other healthcare professional for treatment. The information shared here is general information you might find helpful for yourself or someone you know.
What Are the Blues?
In general, the blues can be described as sadness and lack of interest in things you once found enjoyable. Sounds a lot like depression, doesn’t it? Some people may use the terms interchangeably and that’s okay – it’s less important to label and more important to treat. By treat I don’t necessarily mean using therapy or psychotropic medications, although I think both are great options!
Why Am I Blue?
First and foremost, look around you. What has changed? Have you experienced a loss or major change in your life? It could be your job, health, a relationship, actually any number of things. Maybe it’s grief that has yet to be worked through. Keep in mind that grief doesn’t always come after the death of someone; it could be the grief you feel when you’ve lost something or you are grieving a relationship you thought would last or would look a certain way. Grief can be heightened after the holidays because maybe yours weren’t perfect; you had high expectations for an Instagram worthy holiday and what you got looked markedly different.
If you have trouble pinpointing why you are feeling blue, it’s a good idea to head to the doctor. Maybe it’s hormonal changes? Maybe it’s lack of a certain vitamin? Get those things checked out!
Tips to Overcome the Blues
Let’s get right to some tips to overcome the blues, or at the very least get you some relief. The hardest part of dealing with any emotional turmoil or upset is that there is no instant fix or cure. No pill you can take and feel better in a few hours. But YOU CAN actively participate in feeling better and with each step you might find the load lessening.
Here are some tips to try:
- get some sleep
- limit alcohol use
- eat better
- get some fresh air and sunshine
- talk to someone – a friend or relative you feel supported by
- write in a journal
- make plans
- know that this won’t last forever and that you CAN feel better
These tips may be nothing new but sometimes we need to be reminded. Our bodies need to be well taken care of to manage daily functions. When you are experiencing emotional turmoil, when you are blue, when you are sad – your body is fighting to regain balance. This is why it is so important to get enough sleep – not too much but get what your body needs. It’s also why limiting alcohol and eating better are important. I’d like to say avoid alcohol all together but that’s a personal decision. Just know that the physiological effects of alcohol may provide temporary relief but then leave you feeling worse overall and even more blue. For the same reason, eating better is important. Sure, you are feeling down and it seems like all the sweets, comfort foods and carbs are soothing but the sugar crash afterwards does just the opposite of what you wanted.
Feelings just have to be felt so getting out in the fresh air, in the sunshine, getting some exercise and talking to someone are all options to do just that. If you are an expressive type and enjoy writing (or drawing or painting) then by all means start and see where it takes you. Make plans to do something you enjoy – a hobby or social activity. It’s becoming more popular to plan vacations after the holidays for that very reason – we like having something fun to look forward to! I have a sneaking suspicion that that could also be the reason we love looking forward to and decorating for Valentine’s Day!
Finally, know that what you are dealing with won’t last forever. You can feel better. It may feel so overwhelming but there will be relief. Personally I have had times when I seriously doubted I’d ever feel joy again but I am happy to report that I did and I do. The journey will look different for each of us but what I hope you take away from this is, is that we all feel down sometimes. It happens. Life can be tricky. People we love will let us down. We will be disappointed. Family members, friends, and pets will die. We will experience change. Life is to be enjoyed and when that is not happening you owe it yourself to find out why and do something.
I hope you found this helpful. I’d love to know if you have any strategies you use when you feel down or blue. Most of all I hope you are not suffering in silence and that you aren’t ashamed or embarrassed by how you feel. Even the happiest person you know has dealt with this before and it’s no indication of weakness, it’s an indication of realness and being human!