April in Japan marks a time when many changes occur. Some people go on vacations, while others are excited about a new work or school environment. April is a fun, frenetic time of the year wherein people are eager to make the most of their days. However, all comes crashing down in May. After all the activity in April, there are people who experience a seasonal affective disorder-like psychological condition called “Gogatsu-byou (五月病)” or “May sickness.”
In Japan, reality sets in May when people start to realize that everything is back to normal. The excitement about their new job, workplace, or school is gone. The thrill of being accepted into a new place or making new friends has worn off. Many people who were excited to put on their suits or exchange business cards before suddenly feel unmotivated. The extended period of lethargic bliss comes to an end. It is also at this time when the monotony of working life becomes clear.
The symptoms of Gogatsu-byou include insomnia, decrease or increase in appetite, nervousness, restlessness, mood swings, depression, and other similar traits. If you are a new resident in Japan, you might not be able to notice this immediately nor experience it unless you’ve been living in the country for a few years.
This phenomenon affects a number of Japanese people, especially freshmen and new workers, to some degree. It can also cause intense turmoil in personal relationships. People seem overly sensitive and friends are less likely to come out for drinks. It is said that the number of sick days taken by employees increases as well.
It is a fact that people, by nature, are afraid of sudden changes. After weeks of holidays and enjoyment, people normally feel a bit off and find it difficult to adjust. Different people deal with things differently. Most people get over it just in a couple of days and head to school or office, as usual, to finish off their tasks. And then there are those who are affected by the so-called “May sickness” who just feels unmotivated.
Nevertheless, don’t feel scared when May comes. There are many ways for you to get around it without having the blues. Invest in and take care of yourself. Talk to somebody if you have to and don’t let change scare you away or bring you down.
Shake off those May blues if you’re planning on staying in Japan for a long period of time. Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean that the world is ending. There are many ways to prevent May sickness from happening to you. The most important thing to do is to acquire a proper mindset.
Hopefully, with this article, you know more about Gogatsu-byou and the possible reasons behind it. Regardless if it’s May or not, may you have a good and healthy month!