Are you suffering from the winter blues? Here’s why mental health deteriorated in January and how to manage it

DALLAS — For many of us, the start of a new year provides a clean slate from grueling year-end holiday schedules, providing us with an opportunity to reset and create solutions.

Pursuing such lofty goals can go against our natural instincts as humans, said Brianda Diaz De Leon, a licensed social worker with Dallas-based mental health firm Thriveworks.

The winter season – which brings with it cooler weather and less light – affects many. She said the pressure to do more in January, along with the fallout from the holiday season, is causing people to struggle with their mental health.

“We are still a species of animal, and to some extent (winter) is hibernation time for us, so we feel more tired and tired,” Diaz de Leon said.

Here’s what makes this time of year difficult for people and ways to deal with rising anxiety.

What makes January so depressing?

Diaz de Leon said that while January presents a new set of challenges, mental health begins to decline by the end of the year. in 2022, More people have been pressed through The holiday season is a thing of the pastThis is due in part to soaring inflation, according to a survey by the American Psychiatric Association.

“Sometimes our capitalist society and the demands of the capitalist holiday season just don’t align with us being only human,” Diaz de Leon said. A recent survey conducted by the APA It revealed that the recession, gun violence, and the Russian-Ukrainian war also contributed to Americans’ anxiety in 2022.

During the holiday season, she said, people also have uncomfortable conversations with family members they haven’t seen in a while. Those with anxiety are more likely to feel residual shame from these exchanges, which can last into January.

“We’re kind of in a place where there’s a shift in consciousness and maybe even in political identity, so that definitely came across over the holidays,” she said.

This year, Diaz de Leon said she has seen high rates of pandemic-related work-related burnout among her patients. XBB variant news in December 2022 It has raised concerns among some clients who are entering their third year of a global pandemic.

“Most of my clients are having a really hard time,” she said. “We’re still hopeful, but it’s harder for them to turn back than before.”

What about the new year?

Many workers also use their paid vacation to celebrate the end of the year. But Diaz de Leon said returning to the office comes with the “PTO blues” and readjusting to the pressures of ordinary life.

“Once January comes around, the holiday season ends,” she said. “Many of us are now having to face the consequences of the financial decisions we’ve made.”

Unrealistic New Year’s resolutions may also contribute to feelings of failure and depression, and they can peak in mid-January.

“In the middle of the month, we realize our New Year’s resolution probably isn’t feasible, and many of us fall off the wagon,” she said. “So there is also a lot of guilt and shame that adds to the tension we were already feeling.”

seasonal affective disorder, A recurring seasonal depression that usually peaks in the fall and winterIt could also play a role in the low levels of mental health in January. Seasonal affective disorder affects about 10 million people in the United States, and women are most likely to be diagnosed. According to Psychology Today.

How do I deal with it?

Diaz de Leon recommends that people engage in self-care, which includes staying hydrated, eating nutritious meals, getting adequate sleep, and engaging in some type of physical activity.

“What I mean by engaging in self-care is literally taking care of yourself in the most basic sense, such as making sure that we actually get enough meals, and that our meals are rich in the nutrients and calories that we need especially in the winter months,” she said.

For people who work from home and lead sedentary lifestyles, it’s important to move through the day, even if it’s just taking a walk or doing five-minute stretches.

And when it comes to New Year’s goals, she advises people to break down their goals by month or quarter in order to better manage their expectations.

“If your goal is to open your office by the end of 2023, maybe we can break it down into quarterly targets so we can better keep track of what’s going on,” Diaz de Leon said.

If you suffer from the winter blues or any other mental illness, Help is available. If you are in crisis, seek immediate help and call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988. A crisis text line is also available by texting SIGNS to 741741 for free, anonymous counseling.

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