Five Ways to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues
If Black Friday is the beginning of the Christmas season, full of shopping, travel, and working as little as possible, then Blue Monday is the unofficial end of those good times. Considered by some to be most depressing day of the year, when poor weather conditions, increased debt levels, failed resolutions, and having to return to work and school following a lengthy vacation leaves folks feeling the lowest they’ll feel all year, Blue Monday is the unofficial feel-bad event of the winter.
The event dates back to 2005, when a researcher at Cardiff University created an equation that claimed that the third Monday in January combined all of the things people generally don’t like in such a way as to create pretty much the worst day of the year. Scientifically speaking, it wasn’t very scientific at all, and the research was commissioned by a travel agency (so take it with a handful of salt). Later, a protein drink company in the UK commissioned further research utilizing Twitter and, after examining over 2 million tweets over the last three Januarys, found that people claimed to be their very most miserable on that first Monday after the holidays. Thus a slightly revised Blue Monday was born.
Exact date and shady science aside, the period after the holidays is hard. The aftermath of any big, exciting event is difficult as you transition back into your normal routine. Plus, once the gifts are unwrapped all that’s left is the debt. So it’s easy to see why anyone would be down this time of year. But you don’t have to succumb to the post-holiday blues. Here are five ways to stay positive and pro-active during the January doldrums.
Give yourself a winter project
After all of the hustle and bustle of October, November, and December, January and February can be depressingly quiet. Coming down after a multi-month stretch where it seemed like you always had something to do can really take the wind out of your sails.
If there aren't any projects on your calendar, create some projects: re-organize that closet, create a holiday scrapbook, start working on that novel you’re always putting off. Find something you can truly, happily invest yourself in and the winter will melt away.
Plan your next event or gathering
Part of the fun of the holidays is the anticipation of seeing loved ones and having fun together. Don’t wait until next December to get together again! Make plans for a spring or summer gathering. Start planning smaller trips to keep you occupied throughout the year.
If it feels like the next fun thing is a full year away that can be pretty deflating. So be sure to give yourself more things to look forward to.
Create a plan for your money
Another reason why the post-holidays can be such a drag: the credit card bills start coming due. And even if you've managed to avoid creating debt, your checking account is probably quite a bit lighter now that the holidays are over. With the excitement of the holidays now gone, your financial reality may be a source of intense dread.
Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed into paralysis by your new holiday debt. Get organized and create a solid plan to have your debt handled quickly. Review your finances and create a plan that balances your day-to-day needs with your bigger goals, like saving for a trip or paying off your debt.
Need a little help figuring out your options? That's where we can help. We offer free financial counseling and debt analysis to help you understand your options and pick the path that works best for you. Best of all, counseling is available 24/7, online and over the phone.
Sell, return, or donate
January’s a great time to take stock of your “stuff.” Coming out of the holidays, you may have some new clothing or household items, so it’s a perfect time to sort everything out and see what you don’t need.
If you’re concerned about debt, now’s the time to look into reselling some of those items you don’t need. If debt’s not a concern, you can donate unwanted items to charity. Either way it helps keeps you busy and your closets from overflowing.
Enjoy the season for what it is
Hey, snow and ice and rain aren’t many people’s idea of great weather, but winter only comes once a year, so celebrate it! Rather than longing for summer, try your best to appreciate the things that make winter unique. Go sledding, go skiing, drink hot chocolate, and all that fun stuff. Enjoy spending time with your favorite sweaters and scarfs (they've missed you).
It’ll be summer again before you know it, so cherish the season while it’s here.