Combating SAD or January Blues after festivities - GulfToday

Combating SAD or January Blues after festivities

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

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Illustrative image.

All across the UK and US, where temperatures plummet during the winter months and the days get darker earlier, people begin to suffer from what is known as ‘the January blues’. These blues are not connected to the cold weather but to Christmas and the New Year for which many Christians spend months preparing. They spend months preparing the menu, shopping for gifts, planning Christmas and New Year parties, both at home and at work, and looking forward to the bank holidays. There’s anticipation and excitement because there are shiny decorations all around the home, at work and in the streets.

Having grown up in London, I can vouch for the fact that, in the run-up to Christmas day and New Year, that’s around late November and onwards, there’s a distinct but indescribable and inexplicable festive feeling in the street. Everything and everyone is, somehow, different. When I worked in London, every year my office would close from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day, that’s ten days of holidays that weren’t taken out of our annual leave! Plus the very elaborate Christmas Lunch and a gift from the Chief Executive for every employee.

Then 2nd January comes and that’s when it hits some people that it’s all over for another year and everything is back to normal. And, apparently, yesterday, the 10th January, that’s Monday, was the ‘saddest day of the year’.

Aside from the January blues, for years we’ve also known about S.A.D. This is known as Season Affective Disorder which afflicts about 10 million people in America and one in three in the UK. Women seem to be more affected than men and the symptoms usually present themselves around autumn and continue until the end of winter. Some people are also affected during the spring and summer months but these are less common.

The symptoms appear to be similar to other types of depression, and let’s be clear that it is a type of depression. The only difference between this and other types of depression is that it seems to be affected by the weather. In other words, whereas other types of depression can occur all year round, those affected by SAD seem to get better around spring time. It is, therefore, easier to tell whether a loved one has SAD or depression even if the symptoms are similar.

Anxiety, loss of interest in normal activities, finding it hard to get out of bed, a feeling of loss of hope, insomnia and feeling less sociable are some of the symptoms, and yes they are similar to the depression we know of…but timing is crucial here. If the symptoms go away when spring comes, we know that it was SAD.

In my view, come New Year, people have one of two feelings. A feeling of hope that the New Year might bring them what they feel has been lost or missing in their lives, or a sense of hopelessness in that some things never change and never will. Some might think that some of the hopeful are naïve (I was one of them and, in retrospect, I believe that I was indeed naïve) and that the hopeless are more realistic. But are the hopeful more sensible because they know how to try and be optimistic and, therefore, be happy, despite knowing that their hopefulness is misplaced?

Experts believe that there are several ways we can combat SAD and the occasional bouts of depression that a lot of us feel at one time or another in our lives. They think we should exercise more to allow our brains to release endorphins. They think we should meet friends and family more frequently. Apparently, an especially good idea is to make contact with long lost friends from school and university. They think that, on a daily basis, we should treat ourselves with some very dark chocolate and they think we should spend at least a portion of our day doing something just for ourselves.

Whilst all this might seem like good advice, in reality our hopelessness doesn’t simply go away because we munched on some dark chocolate or worked up a sweat. These words of advice are just words for those with a real and present affliction.

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