There are three words in the title to keep in mind. You aren’t alone. People may not talk about it openly but post-holiday depression is a common issue. After the lights are taken down and guests return home, there can be a time of adjustment. It’s usually a blend of sadness and emptiness — with some guilt or shame in the mix.
Post-holiday depression is not a statement about you; it’s more about our collective traditions. Fortunately, there are proven self-help methods for addressing this silent problem. As we’ll touch on below, a huge first step is understanding what’s happening and why.
What Causes Post-Holiday Depression?
Of course, the reasons can vary widely but here are a few common trends:
- For at least six weeks, most of us toss our schedules and routines out the window. This means more eating and drinking — and less sleep and exercise. This is a recipe for emotional ups and downs.
- For much of the year, life can settle into a rut without us realizing it. Suddenly, we’re going to parties, seeing people we rarely see, and attending events with gifts, music, drinks, and more. When the holidays end, you may not be ready to return to the grind.
- Just because everyone is celebrating doesn’t mean you want to join in. You might be grieving, sick, or struggling in other ways. Such a scenario leaves you feeling guilty or resentful about missing out.
Variations and combinations exist, but the post-holiday blues can sneak up on you and throw you for a loop. You’re not alone. This can be true for any of us.
Steps to Take When Feeling Depressed After the Holidays
You’re moving closer to acceptance once you identify some triggers and causes. You feel a certain way, and you know why, so now it’s time to manage and address the situation. Many folks have a tendency to shrug off mental distress. When you accept the presence of post-holiday depression, you lay bare the need for action.
Your mind and body are not feeling 100 percent right now. Why not treat yourself with the compassion you’d get from a parent, spouse, or good friend? Daily self-care is a crucial practice all year round. But, after the holidays, it becomes non-negotiable, e.g.
- Get back into a steady sleep routine
- Commit to exercise and physical activity every day
- Recalibrate your eating habits
On that last note, don’t allow poor dietary momentum to build into January. Nip it in the bud, and you’ll likely experience some rapid mood enhancement.
Your mind can slide into a particular mood and then find reasons to stay there. To counter this, actively express gratitude for everything — big or small — that makes you smile throughout the day. Keep a journal and review it whenever you sense negativity trying to take over.
Make New Plans — Short-Term and Long-Term
What better way to get unstuck than by giving yourself something to look forward to? Sure, post-holidays, things can feel a little empty or drab but you have more control than you might imagine. It begins by making some small plans to get you focused on creating your own joy.
No Matter What, Take Depression Seriously
The holiday blues typically resolve in a matter of days or weeks. Even so, do not take them lightly. If you get the sense that this is more than a minor funk, reach out to talk about it. Depression is a serious condition. The sooner it’s addressed, the easier it is to treat. So, if your January isn’t getting any better, reach out to learn more about depression treatment.