As the holiday decorations are packed away and the festive cheer fades, many of us find ourselves grappling with a sense of melancholy or sadness. This post-holiday period, often referred to as the “post-holiday blues,” is similar to the let-down following eagerly anticipated events like weddings or vacations. It’s essential to recognize that post-holiday blues are not uncommon, and they can affect anyone. In fact, it has become so prevalent that we mark it on our calendars as Blue Monday, typically falling on the third Monday in January. This is the time when the realities of weight gain, credit card bills, and seasonal depression, loneliness and more converge, catching up to us once the euphoria and “spirit of the season” have worn off. Perhaps, then, it is not mere coincidence that January also happens to be Mental Wellness Month.
According to a report by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five American adults experiences mental illness in a year. Despite this, only a small fraction of them receive the proper treatment they need. Unfortunately, the longer help or treatment is delayed with diagnosable disorders such as depression or anxiety, the worse symptoms get and, eventually, negatively affect all other areas of our lives. This can also be the case with more situational, non-disorder related life challenges as well. Blue Monday is our reminder to take a breath, assess our mental and emotional well-being, and prepare ourselves to navigate through the challenges that may lie ahead. Rather than succumbing to the post-holiday slump, consider it an opportunity to prioritize mental health and well-being.
There are practical steps you can take to support Mental Health Wellness Month, both in your personal life and at work. For example:
- Volunteer for Mental Health Initiatives: Contribute your time and energy to local mental health centers, shelters, libraries, or food banks. Whether alone, with friends, or as a team with co-workers, volunteering can be a meaningful way to make a positive impact in your community.
- Group Self-Care Appointments: Schedule self-care appointments as a group. This could involve movie nights, cooking classes, spa days with manis and pedis, or relaxing massages. Sharing these experiences with others enhances the sense of connection and support.
- Wellness Exchange: If organizing group outings is challenging, consider a secret Santa-style wellness exchange. Draw names from a hat and exchange passes or vouchers for activities that promote well-being. It’s a thoughtful way to encourage self-care within your social and professional circles.
Mental Wellness Month goes beyond just raising awareness and breaking the stigma associated with mental illness. It is a reminder that help is available, and it’s okay to ask for that help. Moreover, there are proactive steps we can take to cope with challenging times and contribute to our mental wellness.
By acknowledging the post-holiday blues and actively participating in Mental Health Wellness Month, we can create a supportive environment that fosters well-being for ourselves and those around us. Let’s make this January not just a month of reflection but also a month of action, as we prioritize our mental health and work towards a brighter, more resilient future.