If you have a case of the winter “blahs,” you are not alone, says Sarah Hamid-Balma, director of mental health promotion with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vancouver. There are strategies to overcome them.
Start by reminding yourself about the goals you set at the beginning of the month and how you plan to achieve them.
“People get very reflective in December and January about what they want to do to get the most out of their lives,” Hamid-Balma says. “Just remember what ‘better’ looks like. Is it money? Or do you want to feel happier?”
Hamid-Balma offers the following suggestions to keep your chin up in the dead of winter.
> Think “wellness,” not “illness”
Regard your “blue” mood as part of the bigger picture of your overall wellness, Hamid-Balma says, rather than a matter of mental health or illness.
“People hear ‘mental health’ and they think we are talking about schizophrenia or severe depression,” Hamid-Balma says.
Thinking about the social stigma of mental health can prevent you from talking openly about stress or anxiety. That could stop you from achieving a feeling of wellbeing over the long term.
> Welcome help
If you haven’t felt like yourself for at least a couple of weeks — and not because of a major loss, such as a death in the family — find out what options are available to you, Hamid-Balma says.
The problem could be physical in nature — your blood sugar or thyroid, for example — or it could be something mental.
“People believe they can think themselves out of [a slump] but they can’t,” Hamid-Balma says. “To get better and feel well, you should get help.”
Available options include talking to a friend or your spouse; your firm’s employee assistance program or counseling services, if available; visiting your doctor.
From there, you and a health professional can figure out a treatment plan to help you get back on track. And not all plans are based on taking medication.
> Take action
Doing nothing and letting a problem fester can cost you money and much more, says Hamid-Balma. Look at the bigger picture, she says.
For example take a “mental health day” or reschedule a client meeting to attend a therapy session. That might not seem like a great business move on the surface, but it can pay off significantly in the long run.
“There are costs when you are at work but you are only ‘half there’,” Hamid-Balma says. “Those costs only go up with people who are facing untreated depression or anxiety or generally feel unwell over longer periods. Stress leaves go up, and errors go up.”
So, taking care of yourself means taking care of your practice.