The days after Christmas can feel like you’ve been transported to another dimension, one where everything that was colourful and happy only moments ago has become a murky grey. The festive period is over and you’re forced back into the deep end of normal life without any easing-in. I’m a student, trying for the second time to finish my History degree, so technically I’m off until the 30th of January. Don’t throw rocks at me yet! I’ve got two more essays due by the middle of this month and am going ‘back to work’ today. So just like the rest of you who may be struggling at the moment, I’m not feeling too enthusiastic about returning to those long, dull, academic books about Victorian life.

There are plenty of things I am looking forward to though, and that’s number 1 on my list of ways I’m coping with the post-Christmas blues.

Have something to look forward to.

A huge contributor to this sense of doom following the festive period, is that after all the fun we’ve had at Christmas, there’s nothing else to look forward to. But this isn’t true – it can’t be! We’ve got another year and there’s no way I’m letting that time go by without a single exciting event. I’ve got a holiday planned, a trip away from life in late January which is currently motivating me to drag myself from bed each morning. I’ve plastered pictures of Budapest everywhere and keep reminding myself that I’ve got that to look forward to – a diamond in my diary.

You might not be going on holiday, but there are plenty of things you could pop into your diary to cheer yourself up. Book in a date with someone you love and go to dinner. Find a movie that’s being released soon and plan to watch it with a friend. Pick a date when you’re free and take your dog for a really long walk somewhere beautiful. Any of these things can be diamonds in your diary and if we plan enough we stop believing that there isn’t much to look forward to.

But it isn’t always the things you do, rather who you do it with, that’s important.

Spend time with loved ones.

Over the festive period we spend more time than usual with those we love and care about. Drinks with friends, or colleagues. Meals with our families, and copious amounts of time opening presents or drinking with those closest to us. While this may have to slow down a bit when we’re back at work, it doesn’t have to stop! Keep meeting up with the people you enjoy spending time with, even if it’s a coffee once a week, it’s important to stay connected.

For some people, their enjoyment of life in the new year is made more difficult by the pressure they’ve put on themselves to change in 2017.

Set realistic goals.

I’m not saying that change is bad, if I’d never changed or worked to improve myself then my life would be pretty messy right now and I’d be far from offering advice. What I am saying is that some people set unrealistic goals, and then feel worse under the pressure of keeping to their resolutions. Last year I set the goal of quitting cigarettes cold turkey from midnight on NYE. Completely unrealistic. If you’ve ever set this goal and succeeded I’d like to meet you and possibly bow at your feet. I failed a few months in, and spent the first few weeks of 2016 in agony and fear of failure. Perhaps if I’d said that I’d start cutting down, or used assistance, I would have had a better chance.

The point is that my goal was unrealistic. My goal this year is to write every day, which I’m hoping will improve my style and plotting techniques. This isn’t too far from my grasp as I’ve spent some time writing most days, for the past year or so. It’ll involve getting my routine sharpened and being disciplined with myself, but it’s much more possible than the mountainous goal of last year. So if you’re set on improving yourself this year, make sure that you take small steps which you’re likely to achieve, rather than setting huge goals which completely throw you.

I guess the last thing to remember is that the changing of a year is not a supernatural affair. At midnight the world didn’t completely change, it simply completed another ring around the sun. The year may have changed but really, things are the same as they were before.

If you’re finding life tough at the moment and need some more help take a look at some of these websites. If you’re in need of some urgent help call your GP or try Samaritans, they’ve got me through some tough times and without them I probably wouldn’t be here today. Their number is here.

Samaritans website

MIND website

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