Dr. Mitch Shulman: Tips for beating the January blues

Find something (no matter how small) that’s positive each and every day.

This can be a tough time. The holiday bills come due; work and school restart; and with the short, cold, dark days it’s easy to become sad. Here are some suggestions to beat the “post holiday blues”.

1. Find something (no matter how small) that’s positive each and every day. You can start or end your day with that but make it a habit;

2. Look forward. The New Year is blank slate. Almost anything can be done. If you are going to look back at the year that was, focus on what went well. Don’t dwell on the negatives from the past;

3. Volunteer or buy a plant. Helping people or growing things help raise your spirits.

4. If you have something specific that is worrying you (for example, losing your job) have a backup plan and write down what needs to be done to make it happen. Hope for the best but plan for the worst.

5. If what you miss from the holidays is the socializing, schedule activities with the people you enjoyed spending time with. If family or friends live far away and you miss them, schedule type to call, Skype or otherwise stay in touch;

6. Exercise. It can be as simple as walking over to your colleague’s desk but get up; and lastly,

7. If everything looks dark and you’re depressed, don’t hesitate to get help. Many work places offer confidential employee assistance plans; schools have counselors and your local CLSC has an input process for people needing psychological support. The first step, recognizing that you need help, can be the toughest but do reach out.

Hopefully these thoughts can help us all make it through the dark days of January.

Dr. Mitch Shulman is an Assistant Professor, Dept. of Surgery, McGill Medical School and an Attending Physician, Emergency Department, McGill University Health Centre. He’s also the CJAD AM 800 Medical Consultant.

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