At this time of year, as the nights draw in, some people experience a drop…
So the summer is almost over and for many, the ‘back to the office’ blues are here.
Returning to work, school or college after a glorious summer break can be a shock to the system. ‘Why on earth am I doing this?’ runs through a lot of people’s heads when they log onto their computer on their first day back at work.
Returning to the routine of work, school or college can be a harsh reality check, particularly if the summer holidays gave a taste of bliss or a glimpse of a more relaxing lifestyle.
Don’t be fooled by the forced joviality of colleagues recounting what a fantastic summer they had, and how great it is to get back into the swing of things. Many of them will also have a sense of private dread about returning to work or feel downright depressed.
Let’s face it; the daily grind is no substitute for lying on a beach, exploring an exciting foreign location or just pottering about in the sun doing nothing.
Part of the reason people get depressed in the autumn or winter is the weather. Cold dark days can really get you down. If you felt happy on your sunny holiday it was not just the glorious spot you chose or the chance you had to unwind. Sunshine can actually improve people’s mood and is said to increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter linked to happiness.
The numbers of people who say they suffer from depression and anxiety increase, as the days get colder and shorter. The darker days and lack of sunshine is believed to affect the part of the brain that governs energy levels. That is why many people suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) say they feel lethargic and depressed in the autumn and winter.
Some sufferers say light boxes help them cope at this time of year. For many, reaching for the secret stash of chocolate becomes the antidote to the seasonal blues. But comfort eating isn’t a long-term solution to depression or anxiety – nor is remaining beneath the duvet.
Exercise is an effective way to help cope with anxiety and depression and is said to boost serotonin levels too. A bike ride, run or long walk will lift your mood and could become a healthy habit once you feel the benefits.
Try also looking at the positive side of returning to work, college or school. The in-built social life that works or college offers can actually be a support mechanism if you are feeling low – it can also be a distraction. There is no substitute for being busy.
Holidays are about change, contrast and refreshing yourself. But just because you are no longer on holiday does not mean you have to stop rewarding yourself or exploring. Remembering the great time you had on holiday can actually boost your mood.
If just getting away refreshed your spirit, why not work some mini-breaks into your routine? The weekends offer all sorts of prospects for a break or a change. A short break – even to a town or part of the countryside you have never explored (it need not be far away) can bring some of the emotional benefits – in a condensed form – of a holiday.
One stressed-out professional with no time for a holiday took a low-budget trip to a city in Portugal for the weekend, ate out, saw the sights and returned to work refreshed and energized.
But you don’t have to travel abroad to get a buzz from doing something different. Why not write a list of the things you savored on holiday and see if you can do some of them right here.
It’s amazing how many tourist destinations are right in front of you. You could see a show, or explore a part of town you don’t know. Visit a club, an art gallery, cultural site or a cathedral. At the weekend take a long walk to a highly-rated pub for lunch or try a restaurant you have never tried
When you get back home exhausted from a day trip or long walk you will have done something new. Isn’t that what being on holiday was partly about?
Getting out and doing things can be a great antidote to depression. It could help you beat the winter blues and sustain you …until your next vacation arrives.