Back to work blues
You may have heard of phrases such as the ‘back to work blues’, the ‘January blues’, or ‘blue Monday’. These phrases have sprung up to describe a low, tired or stressed feeling, almost like an emotional jet-lag, that some people may get around this time of year. I know in some previous jobs I have had those difficult feelings too in the first full week back to work in January or after a holiday. It is important to say that not everyone may get them, but for those who do it can make this time of year that bit harder.
So I thought I would share a few ideas that have helped me and others to feel a bit of a mood lift, and it may be helpful to explore further ideas with a counsellor:
- I wonder if New Year’s resolutions or affirmations can sometimes be a bit pressuring or feel a bit critical. I know someone whose resolution one year was ‘be better’, and as she got quite stressed that year her next year’s resolution was to ‘be worse’! So I wonder if kinder, more forgiving, and realistic resolutions may be more helpful, if any resolutions at all!
- Perhaps we can turn a (mini)crisis into opportunity: One of the moments that gave me a kick up the bum to change my career-path was a 'blue Monday' moment, where I realised that actually a previous job wasn’t working for me! I wonder if sometimes finding a job, role, or activity that is more meaningful for us, that aligns with our passions and values, can be more helpful in beating the blues than some other ideas for helping our mood.
- Another factor that could help, is simply knowing what it may be about: it may be helpful to be aware that you may get a ‘Back to work blues’ feeling and then to be gentle with yourself if it happens, and aware that it is likely to pass. As a counsellor, I find that sometimes just helping a client to understand what may have triggered their low mood can help it to feel less unpredictable and scary for them.
- Of course, sometimes a ‘January blues’ feeling can be a symptom of a wider mood issue, such as seasonal affective disorder or depression, so if you feel this may be possible it is best to seek support and explore this with a trained professional such as your GP or a mental health practitioner.
Overall, there is hope of relief for low mood of any kind at this time of year, so take care of yourself and reach out for support from others if you want or need it.