Post Holiday Blues

Presents have been unwrapped, cookies cooked and consumed, and memories of joy on faces remain in your phone. 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 really hectic time of year. You just finished finding the perfect present for so many people, prepared 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.
  • Memories – Holidays can bring up 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 leave 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, to play some games, or watch a movie.
  • Have fun! Go to a movie, see a play, visit the Museum of Arts and Culture, ski or do some sledding.
  • 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 into a new routine. Include a buddy so you have company and someone you look forward to hanging out with, plus it’s a great way 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, , it just means there were some awesome cookies around… and you’ve got to 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 into 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 real issue that many people deal with. As we roll into 2018, remember to make the resolution to highlight health and happiness.

 

By Matt Grebe and Martha Nelson, LICSW

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