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It’s easy to be SAD this time of year

Staff Report • Jan 14, 2013 at 8:48 AM

The Christmas decorations have all been put away. The New Year’s Eve champagne is long gone. Even the BCS Championship Game is in the history books. So what now?

For some, this is a time for the post-holiday blues. The days are shorter, the nights are longer and the chill of winter has finally settled in. Many Americans just don’t seem to have the energy or motivation they enjoyed just a few weeks ago.

If you are one of these people, you may be feeling the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, an affliction also known as winter depression. It’s estimated 14 million Americans experience SAD, a form of depression that’s easily treated.

As we’ve mentioned in this space before, Dr. Kathleen Hall, a self-help author and founder of The Stress Institute, says it is common for some people to experience an emotional letdown following the holidays.

“People experienced sensory overload during the holidays: the lights, the smells of pine and peppermint, sounds of music, the aromas, sight and taste of foods and the touch and connection with others,” Hall said. “By January, they are now experiencing a flat, hollow, sad feeling.”

Hall offers the following tips to battle the post-holiday blues:

Try new foods that haven’t been eaten before. The entire family should choose a cuisine that everyone can cook together.

Add color to your surroundings, such as keeping bright flowers on the kitchen table.

Take time to have fun. Play board games or cards with family members or friends. Go see a funny movie, which research suggests helps get the endorphins going.

It’s also important to make time for yourself during the winter. Schedule time each week to just read, do a crossword puzzle or even take a nap. Researchers say this quiet alone time is essential for individuals who need to release stress and recharge their emotional batteries.

Finally, regular exercise is the perfect tonic for improving both physical and emotional health. Something as simple as taking a long walk two or three times a week can help in improving your outlook on life.

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