The holiday season has come and gone, and just like that - we are in a new year!
While many people are likely thankful that 2020 is finally behind us, it does mean that we are back to "reality". Whether that means going "back" to school or work (virtual or in-person), or entering a new stage of life - this transition period often comes with increased stress and anxiety, and a decrease in overall mood. Some refer to it as the "Post-Holiday Blues" or "January Blues".
If you have noticed a change in your mood or anxiety levels recently, know that you are not alone. In fact, there are several reasons why this could be the case. To help narrow it down, we have compiled a list of 6 questions to ask yourself.
1. Did you indulge a bit more than you may have wanted to?
Are you feeling sluggish, bloated or mentally drained after a few too many days of indulging during the holidays? That’s okay! We all deserve to treat ourselves sometimes- whether that's to celebrate an occasion, or to help us through a difficult time. It does not serve you any good to punish yourself for the choices you made in the past. Instead, set your sights on what you can do now to help you get back on your feet.
One way to do that is to focus on your gut health! Your gut and brain have a very strong relationship: when one is having a bad day, it is very likely that so is the other.
Probiotics are one way to help heal your gut. While you can purchase probiotics in capsule form, did you know there are several foods that are naturally high in probiotics? Fermented foods and drinks are excellent sources of probiotics, including kimchi, kafir, sauerkraut, and kombucha.
Not quite ready to introduce these strong flavoured foods? Try Hawthorn Berry Tea, which has been suggested to improve metabolism, improve energy and remove “gunk” that sticks to our intestines over the years. It is recommended that you drink this tea after a meal.1
Head over to our Nutrition page for many more helpful tips for managing your gut, and therefore mental health!
2. Is there any part of the holidays you would want to change next year?
Holiday traditions. While they can be great, this may not always be the case. In fact, some traditions may be detrimental to your mental health journey, making you feel anxious or uncomfortable.
Take a minute to reflect on the holiday traditions in your life.
Do any of them evoke any form of negative emotion? If so, take some time to write down why. It is important to do so while these emotions are still fresh in your mind. If you can, try and pinpoint what it is about these traditions that makes you feel negativity. Then, brainstorm ways you can adjust these traditions to suit your needs. Or, it is okay to break the tradition completely. I know this may sound difficult, but remember…just because you have done something many times before, doesn’t mean you have to continue doing it if you don’t enjoy it. Have fun making new traditions for next year!
3. Did you stay off social media the best you could?
Have you ever noticed that social media rarely captures the negative moments in people’s lives? Instead it’s filled with our top moments…our “best self”. Comparing our behind-the scenes reality to someone’s highlight reel can have a negative impact on your self-esteem and mental health.
This can be a lonely path.
This can be even further accentuated during the holidays. While it’s nice to see everyone’s family traditions and memories, it’s easy to get too caught up in what everyone else is doing. Instead, turn off your phone and be present in the moment.
When you do find yourself scrolling instagram, make a point to stop. Reflect on your memories and the feelings they evoke. If you aren't already, smile. It might just brighten your day.
4. Have you started thinking about goals for 2021?
We love the concept of resolutions. They are excellent reminders that we have the power to change what we do not like, and that there are good things to look forward to. However, setting resolutions can be overwhelming, and place unnecessary amounts of stress and anxiety on ourselves if done improperly. Checkout our article for ways to set anxiety-minded resolutions!
5. Are you getting outside?
We understand that colder temperatures may not be everyone's favourite thing. However, being outside is a truly miraculous tool for managing stress and anxiety. Especially right now when so many other things are closed during lockdown.
The sunlight in particular can be extremely helpful, especially this time of year for Canadians. Sunlight is a fantastic way to get Vitamin D - an essential vitamin to combat stress and anxiety. However, approximately 93% of Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D.
So with that said, we encourage you to do your best to dress warmly, get outside, and make the most of the season whenever possible. This could mean a short walk at lunch or between classes, or perhaps you can try a new winter activity such as snowshoeing or skiing. If you really have difficulty finding sunlight, you may consider speaking with your doctor about light therapy. These specially designed lamps mimic outdoor light and has been shown to help those struggling with seasonal affective disorder.
6. Are you holding on to negativities from 2020?
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, - remember that the past is in the past. 2020 was an extremely difficult year - we are not trying to minimize or discount that. We understand that many of us are still dealing with its impacts. However, it's important to let go of things that are outside of your control now. Perhaps you are holding on to bad choices you made during the year. Or maybe you had goals that you did not reach. We encourage you to give yourself grace, and to instead use this energy to motivate you to set your sights on 2021.