Matthew T. Rippeyoung, M.A., C. Psych. -
No Secrets Here

Coping with Post Holiday Blech

The holidays are over and now the Christmas tree (if you had one at your house and it’s still up) in the daylight looks an awful lot like the haggard faces you see when they flip the lights on at the bar at the end of the night.  New Year’s Eve and all its expectations are now over and we are left looking at the vast expanse of another cold, Canadian winter.  This can be soul crushing, but doesn’t have to be.  Following the holidays, we can experience a predictable feeling of being let down, having little to look forward to, other than bleak, freezing snowy days and maybe a long weekend in February, which is miles away.  Oh, Winter Blahs, you cometh. 

Beating those blahs will take some work.  If you are lucky enough to be able to vacation somewhere warm in the winter, that vacation will be a meaningful anchor point and something to be hopeful about when the -20 winds suck at your soul like the Dementors from Harry Potter.  However, kicking the blahs in the butt does not require thousands of dollars.  Here are some suggestions of more cost-effective and day-to-day ways to get over the post-holiday slump and winter blast combination that drags us into the dumps:

  • Break the time down: I find counting days to be oppressive, but if you can count the weeks until spring/until a vacation/until a visit from a friend/until someone’s birthday/etc., you may find that the time doesn’t move like molasses going uphill in February.  Here in Ottawa, I’m saying to myself that there are really only 12 weeks of hell-frozen-over-weather…I only have to deal with 12 weeks of this, and I can do 12 weeks.
  • Get moving: It’s so cold out there that if you stand still too long, you’ll freeze in place.  Ice skating, skiing, snow-shoeing, Nordic walking…all of these things raise your heart rate and your body temperature, AND they get you out of the house.  A good friend of mine had suggested that I cope with winter by developing protective layers of warmth through competitive poutine eating.  I have a feeling that if I follow that advice, I’ll feel warm, but disgusting.  No thank you, but that leads me to: 
  • Attend to your diet: While many of us reach for food or drink to comfort us when we are lamenting the winter, it becomes more important to pay attention to what we’re consuming.  If you are deciding to cope with winter by becoming one with the cold through nightly ice cream binges, chances are the sugar rush will be short lived, but your mood will be sunk in the long term.  ·         Pick up a hobby: If you’re going to stay inside, keep your brain engaged!  This may be the year you pick up the guitar, indoor gardening, knitting, scrapbooking, puzzle assembly, painting, model airplane kit making, whittling, sewing, etc.  If you’ve got something interesting to do in your spare time, being kept indoors will not be an imprisonment, but a treat.
  • Find activities in your community: Think about it: if you’re feeling stir crazy, likely other people are too.  Whether you live in a city or a small town, chances are that your community has some kind of winter festival where people get together for some purpose (sleigh rides, ice sculpture, ice skating, snow man making contests, etc.).  You will also find other people there who find winter as oppressive as you do.  The old saw, “Misery loves company” can help you relate to others and will give structure to conversations with acquaintances or other people from your neighbourhood whom you may not know well.  Also, winter time can be a good time to decide to check out a local museum or art exhibit or film.
  • Challenge your own complaining about winter: I loathe winter.  I complain about winter in the summer.  This does not help me, but I do it anyway.  In the last number of years, I set the intention to complain less about winter and to find things I can like about it.  It’s not lying to yourself to find a positive spin on something you dislike.  It may be that what you like most about winter is that it ends eventually.  That’s ok.  Trying to stay positive can help you from falling totally into the abyss.
  • Get a light box: IT’S DARK OUT THERE!  And some of us find that without a lot of sunlight, our moods sink.  Whether you meet clinical criteria for Seasonal Affective Disorder, or just find the winter gives you the blues, renting or buying a UV light box may be a good idea.  

The above are some suggestions to help manage mild to moderate blahs.  Admittedly, while these suggestions may be helpful to boost moods, it’s unlikely that counting weeks or picking up a hobby will be sufficient in and of itself to battle clinical depression.  This may also be the winter you decide to get into (or get back into) therapy, or talk to your doctor about medical interventions to cope with what might be more than just the winter blahs.  Whatever you decide to do, what’s most important is that you engage in looking after yourself and not let the winter blahs slush on your parade.  

6 Comments to Coping with Post Holiday Blech:

Comments RSS
Phyllis Rippey on January-04-13 1:36 PM
Good suggestions! Although it's hard to recognize, I also note that now the days are getting longer. That always lifts my spirits in the dead of winter.
Reply to comment
Matthew T. Rippeyoung, MA, C.Psych. on January-04-13 2:27 PM
I totally fact I often try to calculate how many days on "this" side of the winter solstice we are as a way of coping. 14 days, as of today, January 4th!

stephanihecht on March-28-17 8:57 AM
Our event will take place at the Grand Hotel, a beautiful hotel right on the coast. Malahide itself has many restaurants, bars, shops, a marina, a castle, a championship golf course and the Irish sea, with easy affordable transport into Dublin City centre.
Reply to comment

sharif on March-28-17 8:58 AM
Matthew, this is great writing so far! I have remembered my school life holiday after reading the entirety of the article. By the way, the writing touched my mind. Thanks! buy dissertation conclusion online
Reply to comment

Lachlan Darwin on July-28-17 3:57 AM
Reply to comment

essay writers australia on July-28-17 4:00 AM
Not only in Canada abut all around the world. Work is everybody preference and that is the reason that we can’t spend time with our love ones, we work hard for them but we forget that we have to show our love as well which is the main point.
Reply to comment

Add a Comment

Your Name:
Email Address: (Required)
Make your text bigger, bold, italic and more with HTML tags. We'll show you how.
Post Comment
RSS Follow

Recent Posts

How Do I Do This All Day?
Don't Beat Yourself With The Gratitude Stick
Warning: Objects in Mirror are Handsomer Than They Appear
Choose Hope


Being Healthy
mental illness
Public Health
Work-Life Balance
powered by

Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint