Don’t dip after Christmas
Isn’t life a contradictory bugger when Christmas and New Year brings fun, joy and celebrations yet the time off work, nice presents and newly made memories are simply not enough to lift our moods through January and February? Most of us experience that unavoidable dip.
I have bipolar disorder, the life-long unpredictable illness and currently this prevents me from permanent work. However, I feel for those in routine-led ambitious careers who feel the bump back to reality when their much needed relaxation is snatched back with early, dark mornings and work overload. I have the full time job of medical appointments, following doctors orders, trialling and changing medication with the odd (unpleasurable) inpatient stay on a psych ward (non technical term) but with my life built on flexibility I can mostly take respite when things get bad. I don’t have to socialise, brave the weather and I can hide out in safety of my own home with my most valued companion – meet ‘laptop’.
Pre-bipolar, I used to ruin the end of my holidays with the dread of returning to work. I called it the ‘Sunday night’ feeling that I used to get at school when Songs of Praise would come on and the music would send me to my bedroom with the knowledge I could no longer put off my homework.
Years on I think I’ve managed to overcome those fateful post-holiday dips and the solution is simple. In fact, it is not pioneering – more of a continual reminder for us all. It has nothing to do with new years resolutions unless you have chosen realistic, positive things to focus on instead of the ‘beat yourself up’ favourites such as lose weight, stop drinking, become more punctual (yes, these things can better your life but they are also pressurising and challenging).
So I’m saying take that pressure off and book something to look forward to.
Bucket lists are great but they can be overwhelming with future dreams and aspirations that don’t necessarily lift your mood now.
I hear the echo of ‘what about money?’ but remember this article is being written by a girl with limited income who has had to find effective strategies to manage her mental health. The answer is this. I cut corners and shop around and my zebra print hard copy diary (because Iphone calendars don’t allow me to scribble at length) has something affordable booked in it at least once a month.
Firstly, I own a Tastecard (http://www.tastecard.co.uk/) that is currently offering a membership for 90 days for £1 (yep, you heard it right). You receive a card which allows you to visit over 6000 restaurants in the UK with the promotional offer 2 for 1 on all courses or 50% off the bill. I check my Tastecard phone app for local restaurants enjoy a meal out! You can’t help but feel smug when others around you are paying double for the same dishes!
And what about Groupon the lifesaver? (https://www.groupon.co.uk). Us girls love a facial or massage and at prices starting from a tenner the experiences are a steal. If you fancy a night away with your boyfriend look out for the bargain hotel deals with evening meals and breakfast thrown in. My friends and I just bought a five star hotel stay for our mates’s birthday and at a snippet of the full price, she’s got a fantastic thing to look forward to in the next few weeks.
Also, I haven’t spent quality time with a friend I used to go to University with for ages so we have decided to get away for two days and do know what our plan is? We are going to stay in a self catering caravan overlooking the sea and go for long beach walks, pub lunches and cook in the evenings. We are planning nothing that will slap our bank accounts in the face.
And next week nine girls are cramming into my friends house for a catch up and we’re all planning on taking a dish to eat. Lovely company, home-cooked food, fraction of the cost of a night out and quality chat without background bar noise.
There is so much out there we can look forward to. Think of the people you love to spend time with, work out a budget and start planning little outings every month. The best mood lifters aren’t based on expense but the company you share. There is nothing more rewarding than a conversation about love, life and aspirations with no judgement nor fear on your choice of words.
I have to say, based on my mood lifting plan I haven’t had a post-Christmas dip at all. In fact, I’ve been inspired to write and share my thoughts to remind you that life is good, experiences are affordable but most importantly, don’t feel the need to wait to book something in. Get a few things written down in black and white and you’ll be amazed how good it feels and lifts that mood.
Enjoy the first of your many little plans. Book something now. No time like the present!
Support resources if you are struggling with your mental health or suspect someone is:
First port of call is speaking to your GP and don’t be afraid to ask for talking therapy. For more information use the following websites – there is lots of support out there I promise!
Self-compassion recommended author:
The Samaritans are a non-judgemental ear where you can talk confidentially about anything
Here is a fantastic carers package if you are supporting someone with mental health problems: