1. Expect some letdown. The holiday season is both joyful and stressful at once. There is family to get along with, gifts to buy and return, people to visit, activities to throw yourself into, plenty of festive food to eat, and parties to take part in. Whether adrenaline inducing or stress provoking, it can be an overwhelming time. Especially if fluctuations in physical or cognitive ability come in to play. Returning to the usual routine and probably quieter normal can dampen your spirits just by the absence of exciting things to do and look forward to but can also mean return to baseline physical/cognitive ability. Equally, if your Holiday season wasn't as enjoyable as you had hoped, you can be left feeling down about the lack of enjoyment you'd expected and this can sour your mood. Expecting to feel a little low – or potentially to have more physical or cognitive symptoms during this time frame - is a way of telling yourself that this is a normal feeling/response to stress and that it will soon pass once the routine re-establishes itself.
2. Choose to see the benefits of post-holiday time. The good side to the end of the holidays is that you've had a chance to rest, to relax, and to enjoy yourself….MAYBE. The craziness prior to the holidays has ended and the restful time after the season has hopefully given you the opportunity to do things that are different from your usual routine. Any break in the routine – although potentially stressful - is good for the spirit, providing you with the chance to rejuvenate and change perspective.
3. Take it easy when you're settling back down into your usual routine. Your more rested self is a good thing and gives you an opportunity to take a renewed perspective on your health, routine, or home life pace. Expect that is may take a few days for your physical/cognitive symptoms to even out again.
4. Think about this as a good time to consider making changes to improve your situation, especially because not making the changes can prolong your blues. This may mean exercising more, changing your view of life with a chronic illness or letting go of some of the things that are out of your control.
5. Be gentle on yourself with respect to your New Year's Resolutions. For whatever reason, people use the change in the calendar as a reason to finally put themselves first and focus on their health. Be realistic….If you set the bar too high and you feel as if you're slipping, don't berate yourself, simply adjust the goals to ones that are achievable
6. Continue spending time around people. Some of the post-holiday season blues might be related to having been around many people over the Christmas break and then suddenly finding yourself alone. Lift your spirits by continuing to stay connected with friends and family, and getting out and about to do activities where other people interact with you.
7. Do things that give you cause to look forward to something. Revive the excitement of anticipation by arranging fun activities, such as having dinner with friends, starting a new class for a hobby or interest, attending a sporting event regularly, going to the movies, engaging with family etc. Choose activities that meet your budget and interests, and that you know will give you a thrill while still allowing for consideration of your physical abilities.
8. Make healthy choices. After the many indulgences over the holiday period, it can leave you feeling a little out of shape and worse for wear in the nutrition department. Aim to return to eating healthy food, drinking healthy drinks, and ensuring that you keep getting a good amount of exercise. Eating well and keeping up regular exercise will enhance your mood and help you return to good shape and fitness levels.
· Eat foods that boost your serotonin (feel good) neurotransmitters. Suitable foods containing tryptophan (the building block for serotonin) include bananas, poultry, dairy produce, and peas.
· Keep exercising no matter the weather, lethargy and weight excuses. Exercise will give you the mood-boost you need and gets you moving again. There are plenty of winter exercising options such as walking indoors, home exercise programs, and gym workouts. You could also stay inside and exercise on an indoor exercise bike if you have one.
9. Expect to enjoy the year ahead. Trying to keep a positive frame of mind and planning for interesting and fulfilling events throughout the year is a good way to calm your current blues. Engage in volunteer work - - do things to help others that are in similar situations to yours. These activities will give you purpose and fulfillment. Think ahead to the changing seasons and the sorts of things you'd like to be doing as the year moves on. If you want to travel, start planning the trip and budget now. If you've got big plans ahead like your own or someone else's wedding, renovating a home, or making a lifestyle change, throw yourself into planning.
10. Remember that this disease will only be as well controlled as you will allow it to be. The more time and effort you put in to exercising, eating right, taking your medications on time and putting yourself first, the better you will feel, move and maintain over time.