Post-Holiday Depression

Presents have been unwrapped; cookies cooked and consumed, memories of joy on faces remain in your phone. But now that the festivities are over and it’s time to start taking down the lights, are you feeling down? It’s no surprise that the decrease in celebration and excitement can certainly affect moods, causing disappointment or even sadness. “It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, so if you are feeling that way, you are not alone,” says Martha Nelson, CHAS Health Behavioral Health Provider.

 

Causes:

  • Busyness – It’s a crazy hectic time of year. You just finished having so many people to get the perfect present for, the perfect meals, and attended too many functions. It’s such a wonderful time, but also, exhausting. Coming down from the busyness and hype is tough.
  • Family – Family is the best! Family is the worst! All kinds of feelings come up during the holiday season and it can certainly take an emotional toll. Do you have family members that are stressful to be around? “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” most definitely applies here. Even the most incredible families can cause some levels of exhaustion.
  • Memories – Holidays bring past memories, and often a sense of nostalgia for good times that have passed and loved ones that may be gone.
  • Fatigue – Fatigue is a common contributing factor for holiday depression. It can be a packed time of year, with normal routines and exercise out the window. Additionally, it’s cold outside (and so warm under the blankets). No wonder you can feel fatigued. It’s the time of year I personally put off a lot of things in exchange for sleeping in or going to sleep early.
  • Sugar and food – So many good treats! So many good foods! During this time of year, there is so much to eat, drink, and be merry with. It’s easy to go overboard, throw your routine out the window, and over eat (or under eat if you swap eating something good in order to splurge on a dessert). The amounts of blood sugar spikes can lead you feeling crabby, hungry and a little bit sad.

 

Ideas to help cope with post-holiday depression:

  • Take what you enjoyed during the holidays and continue it throughout the year. If you enjoyed spending time with friends and family, invite them over soon for a meal, play some games, or watch a movie.
  • Have fun! Go to a movie, see a play, go to the Museum of Arts and Culture, ski or do some tubing at Mt. Spokane.
  • Start or continue your exercise routine. Sometimes exercise goes out the window during the holidays (sometimes it goes out the window well before the holidays too). But, now is a perfect time to re-start or get in to a new routine. Include a buddy so you have company and someone you look forward to hanging out with and to hold each other accountable.
  • If you’ve gained weight, don’t worry about it. There were a lot of good treats around. No regrets. It doesn’t mean you are weak, worthless, or irresponsible, it means there were some awesome cookies around…gotta live a little. Right? However, it’s never too late to get back on track with a healthy eating plan.
  • Plan something each week to look forward to.
  • Take care of yourself, including eating well (don’t confuse this with not eating), exercising and getting enough sleep. Have a good attitude as well; it’s easily to slip in to negative notions.
  • If the post-holiday blues hang on for too long, consider reaching out to a behavioral health specialist. Seasonal affective disorder is a legit issue that many people deal with. As we roll in to 2017, remember to make the resolution to highlight health and happiness.

By Matt Grebe and Martha Nelson

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