Have you ever felt blue after Christmas? We’re not talking about the color blue. It is an idiom that means feeling sad or gloomy.
And it is normal to have ups and downs, but what if you have the same problem every year?
It feels like seasonal allergies, but instead of a stuffy or runny nose, you suddenly feel depressed. It’s like everything that happens makes you more sensitive, and it’s not your period. It happens to a man or a woman, and it’s not always about their hormones.
You won’t always feel heavily depressed. It can be more like gloominess or feeling a bit down. Sadness is a natural emotion, but how can you tell if there’s something wrong with it? What if you’re having this seasonal blue or symptoms that are starting to bother you?
In this article, we’re covering everything you need to know about feeling sad. We’re giving you a list of 20 tips to cope with this common problem and a list of warning signs that you may need professional help.
Is it normal?
Mental health is complex, and the most unnoticeable stimuli sometimes trigger emotions. A smell can take you back to your childhood years when you lost your pet. You won’t notice the neuron connections that happen right after, but your sadness is suddenly triggered.
The unconscious mind is even more obscure and difficult to understand in plain sight. So, you may have a reason for sadness rooted in your personal history, and that can be difficult to trace and heal.
All of us have this type of unconscious trigger, and you’re not alone in this. Thus, if you are feeling blue for no apparent reason, do not feel immediately alarmed. Check on the alarm sign list we give you at the end of this article. If you don’t have any of those, your emotions are likely entirely normal.
There’s not a single way for your body to express sadness, and everyone experiences this emotion differently. Some of us are apparently stronger than others and do not care much. However, we get grumpy or feel less motivated. Others feel irremediably sad and may become tearful every once in a while. You have people who can’t stop talking and dress very elegantly when they feel sad. Others feel no energy and prefer to stay by themselves and not talk to anybody (1).
The thing is that you don’t have to be cheerful all the time. We tend to see sadness as a negative feeling, and people say we shouldn’t have negative emotions. They say that you should change your view, step out of the hole, and see the world with positivity.
But that’s just non-professional people talking about things they have no clue about. If you talk to a professional, he would say that all emotions are part of being human. It’s not your fault if you’re feeling blue, and it is better to understand the reason instead of dismissing the feeling or forcing yourself to be positive (2).
Sometimes it is easy to locate the source of your sadness. It is an entirely normal feeling if you had a recent loss or when you’re facing constant changes in your life. Plus, it is also normal when you’re under stress and in difficult situations. It can also happen when you feel bored, stuck, or stagnant.
It is useful to embrace the feeling, understanding your emotions, and the process you’re going through in every case. This may be easier if you experience mild sadness. But you may need professional help if we’re talking about something more intense or prolonged (1).
Is January blue’s a real thing?
As noted in the introduction, sometimes a person can feel blue all of a sudden after Christmas. This is usually known as January blues. You’re definitely not alone if you have this problem, and it is usually a situational sadness. In other words, its causes are not biological but have a social or cultural background.
Why do people get January blues if they don’t have any organic reason to feel sad? There’s usually an interplay of causes. One of them is the weather, especially for people who do not like wintertime. Some people get loans or simply borrow money for Christmas, and they may not have money to pay for it.
We should also consider that it is the time after Christmas cheers and happiness, and things start to go back to normal. Plus, 15 days to one month is when people usually realize that their New Year’s resolutions are not magically happening.
Just think about it. Festive decorations are gone, and there are no beautiful lights and fireworks everywhere. Family meetings are over, and everyone goes back to their routine. People start feeling lonely once again. The excess food and drink during Christmas and New Year’s Eve make people feel sluggish. All of this contributes to a vague feeling of sadness that makes you feel down and less motivated (3).
But there’s also a biological reason to feel sad after Christmas. It is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is not exactly the same as January blues but may contribute to your symptoms.
In Seasonal Affective Disorder, people feel sad for a few months every year. It is usually around January in the northern hemisphere because that’s wintertime. In winter, the sunlight intensity reduces, and the production of vitamin D gets compromised.
So, how do you know for sure that it is January blues?
- It happens right after the holidays are over, when every festive decoration is gone
- Sometimes you can trace your sadness to having debts, feeling lonely, or saying goodbye to friends and family
- It is not a very severe condition, and you won’t call it depression. It is rather mild sadness.
How to cope
Coping with mild sadness is not as difficult as dealing with actual depression. If you don’t have depression symptoms listed on the “Getting Help” section, you might benefit significantly from these recommendations. And even if you do, they may help you feel better and cope with your symptoms (3).
Here’s a list of 20 tips to cope with January blues, sadness, and gloominess (3, 5, 6):
- Enjoy nature: Going out to nature is an excellent way to wash away gloominess. If you don’t have any weighty reason to be sad, it might be enough to reset your emotions. When you go out to a natural place, focus on how animals and plants live together. Breathe fresh air and listen to the wind. It will make you feel different.
- Take frequent walks with your dog: Walking your dog can be a great idea to cope with sadness. Your pets are usually thrilled to be out with you, and they can easily transmit their joy. Spend more time with your pets. They will love it, and you will get a smile on your face.
- Engage in physical activity: Exercise is a great way to overcome stress, anxiety, and depression. When you exercise, there’s a release of endorphins that make you feel good. This is temporary but may contribute to your mood in the long term.
- Say it out loud: Talking to other people is essential. Sometimes your sadness grows because you haven’t had the opportunity to talk it out. It keeps growing inside and making you feel worse every time. Sharing your thoughts with someone who cares is a crucial step to feeling better.
- Use creativity and personal projects: If you are not depressed and only suffer from mild sadness, you will probably keep interested in your hobbies and personal projects. Use that for your benefit and enjoy your own time with your favorite activities.
- Make small changes in your routine: Doing the same thing over and over again makes some people sad, and that can be you. Make a few changes in your daily life. You can include some walking in the park, going out more, or visiting friends. Engage in new projects and try to think outside the box. It sometimes works to uplift your mood.
- Be kind to other people: Real happiness comes from making others happy. So, practice kindness and compassion to other people. Enjoy social moments and make them worth your time. Helping others is a great way to help yourself sometimes.
- Listen to an upbeat song: It is not a good idea to keep listening to gloomy and dark music if you’re down. Maybe one or two if you need to cry, but don’t make it a part of your day. Try some upbeat music, especially if you really like it, and see how it makes you feel.
- Practice mindfulness: Meditation and mindfulness are important techniques to cope with sadness and anxiety. They include techniques that allow you to let it go and focus on being here and now. With this, you can change the silence after Christmas into an enriching experience.
- Expose yourself to more sunlight or a sunlamp: Walking outside every morning can make your body synthesize more vitamin D and secrete less melatonin. But maybe it’s wintertime, and you don’t have enough sunlight. If that’s the case, you can also receive the light from a 300-watt bulb for 3 minutes at a distance of 3 feet, 3 times a day.
- Try expressing yourself with a journal: If you don’t have anyone to talk to about your problems, you can still write them down. Try keeping a journal for a day or two. It doesn’t have to be a strict habit, and nothing happens if you don’t keep it. You can also write some poetry, even if it’s awful. Just express yourself on paper. That’s the primary recommendation.
- Ensure that you’re sleeping enough: Sleeping is essential to cheer up if you have low spirits. Waking up at the same hour and taking a morning walk is an excellent way to recover your sleeping habits. You can also relax your body and mind when you lay down on the bed. Anything that makes you sleep appropriately for your age is good for your mood and your brain.
- Cry if you need to: There’s nothing bad about crying, and you definitely need that in some cases. So, don’t be ashamed to cry and do it if you think you need to. Don’t hold back your tears out of shame or pride. Expressing your emotions is the best way to embrace them and healing emotional wounds.
- Take it one day at a time: You didn’t have a good day, and that’s fine. We all have ups and downs. But don’t take your mood to the next day and the next week, gathering more and more reasons to feel down. Take one day at a time, solve one problem at a time.
- Eat healthily: It might not be easy to cook if you’re feeling down because you’re not motivated. But after making the decision, it won’t feel that bad. Eating well also makes you feel better. In this particular field, it is essential to highlight that food is not a substitute for bad things. happening right now. So, keep it healthy and avoid emotional eating.
- Make yourself feel comfortable: When you’re down, it might be the perfect timing to get yourself a massage. Turn on the essential oil diffuser. Take a hot bath. Make yourself feel comfortable and cozy.
- Take a laugh: Most of us have one or two favorite comedy movies, stand-up comedy shows, or TV shows. If you have one, this is the best moment to turn it on and laugh a bit.
- Be grateful: Gratefulness is an excellent tool to get you back on track and feel better. Of course, you don’t have to force it, especially in the earliest phases of feeling sad. But after you’ve understood the feeling, gratefulness for good things that happen is a great way to start healing.
- Clean your house: Having a mess around you when you feel blue is not helping. When you have a bit of motivation, use it to clean around. The activity itself will probably make you feel better. And staying clean will likely help your mood a bit brighter, too.
- Don’t give up: You’re not helpless. Let yourself know and understand that fact. Give yourself time, and don’t give up if you try one of the recommendations above and still don’t feel better.
There’s a fragile line between being very sad and feeling depressed. If you’re not sure which one is it, take a look at this list of warning signs and symptoms. If you experience them, it might be a good idea to get professional help:
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Mood shifts and irritability
- Disinterest in topics or hobbies that you used to enjoy
- Intense feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- A prolonged depressed mood for more than one or two weeks
- A severe impact on your personal, professional, academic, or love life
- Known patients with depression
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You can feel blue when you’ve had a bad day or a bad week. It can be a seasonal problem when you don’t receive enough sunshine. But it is also important to distinguish feeling blue with mental illness such as depression.
If you don’t have alarm signs of depression, it will be easier to feel at peace with yourself by considering a few recommendations. Take one day at a time and talk about your feelings to someone else. You can write them down, too. Enjoy nature, play with your dog, be kind to people, and stick out of the routine. But if you have alarm signs of depression, talk to a professional as soon as possible and don’t neglect your emotional problems.