The parties are over, the gifts have been opened, and the radio stations have stopped playing Christmas songs. The holiday season is officially over, and it’s time to get back to life as usual in a new year. Some people look forward to this time of year, but others struggle with feelings of sadness and depression, and resort to unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse. The good news is, there are ways to manage the post-holiday blues without drugs or alcohol, and some of them won’t cost you a dime.

1. Join a Meetup Group

Meetup is an online social networking service that allows people to organize and join hobby-based groups in person at different venues throughout the country. Do you like writing or literature? There’s a group for that. Do you enjoy volleyball or board games? There’s a Meetup for that, too. Have you made a resolution to get in shape this year? There are hundreds of groups that center around exercise, including outdoor bicycling, hiking, and yoga, to name a few. Some of the other available groups include:

  • Snorkeling
  • Bitcoin
  • Singles
  • Video games
  • Social media marketing

These groups allow participants to meet like-minded people and make new friends, and many are free of charge (unless you’re an organizer). To sign up, go to Meetup.com.

2. Volunteer Your Time

Regardless of where you live, you can find someone in your area with a need that you can meet. It might be the animal shelter down the street that needs someone to assist with adoption efforts. Not a fan of pets, but love kids? The YMCA in the next town might be seeking someone to help with their afterschool program. Whatever your interests are, there’s a great chance you’ll find a volunteer opportunity not far from home. Go to volunteermatch.org to find openings in your community that center on various causes, including arts and culture, advocacy and human rights, and education and literature. This can be a great way to shift your attention from yourself to someone else, and transform your blues into gratitude.

3. Adopt a Pet

Every year, thousands of dogs, cats and other animals all over the country are turned over to shelters that help find loving homes for them. Many hold adoption events at venues like PetSmart, or have discounted adoption rates on specific dates. By adopting a pet, you can give an animal a better life while improving your own. According to Alan Beck, the director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University, “Animals are good for everyone, but particularly for anxious and depressed people. For one thing, pets keep us anchored in the present and distract us from negative or anxious thoughts.” Whether it’s a young, senior or special needs pet, adoption may be all you need to turn your situation around. Visit your local animal shelter or adoptapet.com to find your new best friend.

4. Declutter Your Home

Take a look at your home. How much of your carpet can you see? Is your closet overflowing with “stuff”? And do you really need 50 shirts and 50 pairs of shoes? You don’t have to wait until spring to do some major cleaning. You can start to declutter now. Start small, one room at a time, one pile at a time. Have three garbage bags or boxes handy: one for items to donate or give away, one for items to dispose of, and one for items to keep. To determine which items go in which bag, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I use or wear it regularly?
  2. Does it make me feel happy or good about myself?
  3. Does it have genuine sentimental value?
  4. Is it unique, or do I have other items like it?
  5. Would I miss it if I got rid of it?

If you answered “no” to most of these questions, it’s probably time to part with the item. There have been many studies that indicate the negative effect that clutter can have on the brain. One such study was conducted at Princeton University Neuroscience Institute. Researchers published results indicating that a cluttered environment can interfere with the ability to focus while limiting the brain’s ability to process information.

5. Learn Something New

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t tried yet? Maybe it’s playing the piano or painting on canvas. Perhaps it’s juggling, paddle boarding or crocheting. The opportunities are endless, and now that it’s a new year, there’s no better time to dabble in a new activity. You can use Meetup.com to find activities that interest you, or you can learn on your own at home using YouTube. By learning a new skill, you might find yourself with a new hobby that you love, which could easily create other positive possibilities for you. Don’t be afraid to get your feet wet! Think outside of the box, and don’t just stop at one activity. Why not try several?

If you’ve been struggling with the post-holiday blues, you’re not alone. And if you’ve been coping with alcohol or any other substance, you’re still not alone. Your blues and booze addiction can end. Call The Recovery Village to learn more about the treatment options available for addiction with co-occurring disorders like depression. In time, you can transform post-holiday gloom to glee.

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5 Ways to Manage the Post-Holiday Blues
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