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How to Beat the After-Holiday Blues

For some people, the end of the holiday season is a major relief. But, perhaps, the holidays were not as festive or celebratory as expected, plans didn’t pan out, or there may be guiltiness over spending too much money, drinking, or overeating. This can lead to post-holiday depression.

Post-holiday depression can impact anyone and it’s often triggered by emotional, financial, and physical stresses. The National Alliance on Mental Illness defines the holiday blues as “temporary feelings of anxiety or depression during the holidays that can be associated with extra stress, unrealistic expectations or even memories that accompany the season”. Holiday blues, holiday depression, or post-Christmas blues, these commonly used terms depict the mental distress occurring after the winter holiday season. 

One of the first steps in beating the post-holiday blues is realizing that this mood of loss is really an adjustment to less stimulation. What you have “lost” is the great level of activity you have had during the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Even if you aren’t depressed, you may experience this sudden letdown of a home that is suddenly empty, the smells of cooking sweet and rich foods have dissipated, and the need to return back to a normal life schedule is staring you in the face.

Beat the Blues

There are ways to beat the post-holiday blues! Here are some strategies experts suggest to survive the blues and get back on track for the new year:

  1.  Allow Yourself a Transition Period. Getting back to “normal” after the holidays may take time.  It will probably take more than a few days to adjust to being back at work and begin feeling like your “normal and productive” self.  Having high expectations of yourself may only add stress and make you feel depressed.  There is no magical way to “start fresh” in January.  If you are patient and accept your sadness, you are more likely to start feeling like yourself sooner.
  2. Look Forward - Not Backward. Think about one thing you would like to happen in the coming year and then make a plan to bring it into being.

  3. Be Gentle on Yourself. When creating those New Year’s Resolutions, be gentle with your expectations of yourself.

  4. Take Care of Yourself. Quality sleep, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet—these self-care and healthy lifestyle choices are recommended by experts to boost mood and manage depression symptoms.

  5. Schedule Time for Fun. It’s easy to withdraw when you’re feeling down. Reach out and get face to face with friends and other people you care about—even when you don’t feel like it

  6. Start a New Hobby. Find a new interest or hobby and spend time cultivating it to give you renewed joy.

  7. Get Out of the House. Get out and take a walk, go grocery shopping, or get coffee with a friend. Changing your surroundings can help strengthen your energy levels.

Post-holiday blues won’t stay with you forever. In the meantime, cut yourself some slack. Don’t be angry for feeling the way you do. Take the time you need to find your balance. If symptoms do persist, consider consulting a specialist.

For more information on the Holiday Blues, click here. If you find you need a therapist or specialist to help you through this time, you can find therapists and counselors in your area of the United States at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us


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