I’ll Have a Blue (after) Christmas: Understanding Post-Holiday Blues

Tis the season for self-improvement. Once the busyness of holiday shopping has come and gone, there are only three things left to do. The first is to find someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The second? Get caught up in the “new year, new me” madness...followed by the madness comes the after-holidays sadness.

In this article you’ll learn all the nooks and crannies involved with the care of the after-holiday blues:

  • Factors that play into the post-holiday blues
  • Holiday-specific stressors that contribute to feelings of sadness
  • How to Cope with after-holiday sadness

Factors that contribute to Post-Holiday Sadness

Many factors contribute to the after-holiday feelings of stress and depression. For some, the colder months are already hard without the added family stress or hectic schedules. These people already have to deal with year-round depression, so the decrease in sunlight and temperature can really add to the depressive symptoms that they already face.

It’s incredibly common and easy to fall into those after-holiday blues. The holiday season is full of family plans, traveling, shopping, and other things attributing to that chaotically cheerful time. There’s a lot to look forward to until suddenly there isn’t. Once that ball drops, so do the moods of people everywhere. Our once jam-packed schedules leave us empty and itching to do something, while the lack of a social schedule can lead to overwhelming feelings of loneliness and gloom.

Common factors that contribute to post-holiday sadness include:

  • Holiday strains
  • Holiday drains
  • After Holiday stressors

Holiday Strains

Many people partake in holiday-oriented breaks, whether they be from college, school, or work. A lot of these breaks, college breaks especially, are only begun after the semester has ended, meaning it’s the season of stress, finals, and deadlines. Other deadlines are more personal, like getting groceries for parties and events, or getting all your gifts done just in time for Christmas day. Planning holiday parties can be particularly stressful since most people want everything to go just right.

Making time to include loved ones can add to the already chaotic holiday season. College kids cram in plans with their friends from back home, while also trying to balance seeing their family. Not to mention, not all family members have the same political, religious, or lifestyle beliefs. This can cause added tension between loved ones and unnecessary stress.

Holiday Drains

The chaotic holiday schedule can be draining just within itself. All the running around leaves little time to have to oneself, leaving room for exhaustion to enter the picture. This time of year tends to be incredibly extraverted, even for those who prefer to be introverted. It’s a lot for one person to handle, especially if they’re not particularly comfortable with the company they spend the holiday season with.

After-holiday Stressors

One of the most common after-holiday stressors is the “new year, new me” madness. It’s the increase in sales of cookbooks, bibles, self-help books, diet books, bullet journals and resolutions. It’s the pledges on social media pages, the promises of making this year better than the last. And best of all? It’s the same thing every year.

Every year, people swear that the new year will be their year. That last year was the worst year, the year that everyone got everything wrong. It’s easy to watch your past get cast in shadows when the spotlight on the future being so bright. It’s the ball-drop bandwagon. So, our solutions to loneliness and gloom evolve into resolutions.

Finances are always a bit tight after the holidays, which makes it easier to get caught up in the anxiety-inducing numbers. If things get too overwhelming financially, there’s not too much you can do once the holidays have passed except to plan for a better future.

How to Deal with the After-Holiday Blues

A few sentences introducing the idea that introduce the idea of there being simple ways to help address the after-holiday blues

Some simple ways to address sadness after the rush of the holiday season include:

  • Finding healthy ways to deal with holiday weight gain
  • Taking time to enjoy quiet moments with yourself
  • Investing in healthful behaviors that will last all year long
  • Knowing when to ask for help

Holiday weight gain

People may feel like they have overindulged over the holidays or even put on a few pounds. Combined with the flood of articles about weight loss in the new year, it can be quite overwhelming.

If you’re struggling to feel comfortable in your body after the holidays, remember most people gain a few pounds over the holidays due to increased alcohol consumption and consumption of foods they would normally eat. Cutting back on portions can effectively help with losing some of the holiday weight you fear you may have gained.

Exercise is another great way to keep connection with your friends after the busy holiday season slows down, and whether you go for a walk in the neighborhood or hit the gym or yoga studio together, it’s a great way to improve your health as well.

Two for a night

Quality family time can take its toll on everyone. However, people in a relationship seem to have double to risks of added holiday strain. Why? Well, most couples have to deal with not only their own family, but their spouse/partner’s family as well. That’s why it’s so important to take time to be with each other after the holidays.

Time to yourself

Another important thing to remember after the holidays are over is to take time for yourself. Put yourself first for the first time in a long time. Don’t worry about the needs of family members or plans. Fulfill that resolution to take more baths. Work on the bullet journal that you decided to start as part of your new year’s resolution. Remember to be gentle with yourself and remember that you’re trying your best. Set realistic goals when it comes to handling the after-holiday blues. Don’t take on too much. Break large tasks into small ones, set priorities, and do what you can as you can. Change happens slowly, not right away.

Healthy Wealth

One of the biggest issues that people run into after the holidays are financial problems. It’s all too easy to take a look at the numbers in your bank account or on your credit card and begin to panic. However, all you can do about it now is to learn and move forward.  Assess the overall situation and begin to set up a reliable and realistic payment plan. When holiday bonuses or tax returns come in, make sure to spend and use them wisely.

Other ways to treat sadness

If the aforementioned tips just aren’t doing the trick, taking a supplement of Vitamin D daily has been shown to improve general depressive symptoms. Other external methods include the use of a light box.

A light box should generally be used within the first hour of waking up in the morning for about 20 to 30 minutes, at a distance of about 16 to 24 inches (41 to 61 centimeters) from the face.

If these methods don’t help

If you notice that your depressive symptoms begin to deeply affect your everyday life, maybe it’s time to consider reaching out toward loved ones and professionals.

And that’s a wrap .

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, do not despair. Recovery is not a one-way street, it’s a day to day process that have a lot of different avenues to navigate. Knowing that there are many available resources to help you is the first step to a journey of love and healing.  

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