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Expert tips on beating the holiday blues

By Todd Balazovic (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-02-10 08:58
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As the capital's residents shake off their hangovers following the holiday celebrations, some of the city's experts are chiming in with advice on how to beat the back-to-work blues.

For many, the first week back at work after a long holiday period is an agonizing ordeal. Memories of lazing around the flat or exploring new places have far from faded, so the last thing on their minds is the hassle of dealing with a mound of accumulated paperwork.

For Al Chambers, an American family psychologist at Beijing United Family Hospital, the easiest trick to beating the blues is simply challenging the social misperception about how people view the workplace.

He said that many people might feel unhappy at returning to work after a holiday period but most studies show that being at work creates more long-term happiness than a weekend away.

"We need challenging involvement to be content and a holiday, although full of promise, is usually not fulfilling in the same way that concentrating on a demanding task is, whether paid or not," Chambers said.

He added that understanding the culture behind why people feel this way and altering how they perceive their jobs can beat the back-to-work blues.

"Unfortunately, we have a 'holiday' culture that is strong in the message that the only time we can be really happy is after work, on weekends, or when away from the job," he said.

"It is difficult to be happy when we are told we shouldn't be. However, let's not forget the many people who really like their jobs and find them rewarding and a pleasure to have."

For Dalida Turkovic, a life coach at Small-steps Life Coaching in Beijing, coaxing oneself out of post-holiday springtime lethargy is easy.

She said simple mental mapping activities, such as sitting down at night and writing three happy things that occurred during the day, thinking about what you can look forward to each morning, or getting together with people that make you laugh, can go a long way in erasing the blues.

"These tips may seem too simple but if you give it a go and do it for 21 days you will find out the transformational power they have," Turkovic said.

"Creativity, laughter and exercise create more serotonin in your brain and the more serotonin you have, the less stressed or depressed you will be."

While there are several strategies that can be used to lift one's spirit, sometimes the problem can be a physical issue.

"One common cause of post-holiday blues is the weight gain many get from all those big gatherings and endless buffets during Spring Festival," said Richard Saint Cyr, an American family physician at the International Medical Center in Beijing.

He said acting quickly to shed the post-trip pounds, either by taking a fast-paced walk following a meal or a morning stroll, can work wonders when curing lethargy.

"Studies show that exposure to morning sunlight can help ward off winter depression," he said.

Chambers added that using the workplace as an opportunity for social gain rather than a drain can help ease stress too. Viewing a job as an opportunity to socialize and meet friends is the easiest way to get over the holiday hump.

"In study after study in psychology, we know very clearly that connecting with others, more than money, health, education or travel, makes us feel fulfilled and creates happiness," he said.

"Holidays don't give our lives purpose, being appreciative, kind and grateful does."

China Daily

(China Daily 02/10/2011 page27)

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