Post-holiday joy: why January is a reason to chin up [Wise Wednesdays]

January 8, 2020

Over a decade ago, an article titled “festive medical myths” was published in the British Medical Journal. It listed misconceptions such as “you can cure a hangover”, “sugar causes hyperactivity in children” and also “suicides increase over the holidays”. Two decades earlier, a unique study over a 7 year period was published under “Christmas and Psychopathology” in the Archives of General Psychiatry. It showed that the number psychiatric emergency visits dropped in December in a U.S. psychiatry department. This pattern is echoed in mass Google searches today: the number of times people Google “anxiety”, “depression”, “fatigue” or “total misery” drops over the winter festive period.

 

But…

 

…they spike in January. Both the number of psychiatric emergency visits and the number of Google searches for “depression” and so on, spike in January after the December drop.

 

Why is that? As a doctor, I experienced Christmas and New Year on calls to be very quiet indeed. The US research team hypothesised that more social support is available over the festive winter period. So people can cope better. By January, the usual problems have reared their ugly heads again.

 

What’s positive about that, you say? Well, perhaps the January spike in psychological distress is the real time for “resolutions”. Your breakdowns are your breakthroughs, right? The festive distractions are over and you can really look your demons square in the eye again. You can take the bull by the horns, rather than grab another drink or canapé and have an inane conversation with Rupert from accounts (made up person).

 

When the sober light of January hits, you actually have the very wonderful opportunity to refrain from further mindless Googling and ask yourself potentially more productive questions like:

 

  • Do I need to improve communication with my family or colleagues?

  • Do I want more fulfilling relationships in general?

  • Is it time to design an exit plan from my current job?

  • Should I give that purple fur coat to charity?

  • Am I ready to kick imposter syndrome to the curb?

  • What will I commit to doing (or stop doing)?

 
Those who celebrate Berber New Year (and anyone else who celebrates New Year on the Julian calendar) may have to wait until next week for this excellent post-festive season reality check. For everyone else: Happy January! Your big problems are cooked to perfection for a big breakthrough.
 
Have a great week,
 
Amina


p.s. My clients are some of the most service-driven, pro-active and authentically successful people you’ll meet. Most of them start coaching by slowing down to turn their vision of the next stage into reality. Some of them like to remain anonymous. Others are happy to share a testimonial.  Here’s a video interview with the wonderful Gee who left a full time role in pharma and transformed into business owner and consultant all the while slowing down and giving herself space to breathe and allow things to unfold in their own time. Take a look at the video here if you want an idea of what Transformational Coaching is like. Any questions, drop me an email.
 
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