How do you combat post-holiday depression? It can be a bit tricky.
The holidays can bring up a lot of emotions, and those feelings are not always positive. While some might feel excited and upbeat, others may feel anxious or depressed leading up to or during the holidays. People may feel low once the holidays are over.
We have some tips on how to recognize the signs of post-holiday depression and how to cope with them.
What is Post-Holiday Depression?
Holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s celebrations can be exciting because they are times for parties and family get togethers. They are also times of a lot of activity. Whether that means traveling, decorating, cooking, hosting, shopping, etc. When the hustle and bustle is over, some people may start to feel a little down. Especially if they had an enjoyable holiday season.
“The most common experience is a feeling of sadness, emptiness or lack of motivation after the holiday period,” says Dr. Frank Drummond, HCA Healthcare’s national medical director for Behavioral Health.
Anxiety and Irritability Post-Holiday
After the holidays are over, some may also feel anxious or even a little irritable. These feelings can be called “post-vacation syndrome” because you are now navigating how to get back to business as usual after an interruption to your regular routine.
“I consider it a smaller version of the ‘Sunday blues,'” Dr. Drummond says. The Sunday blues are when people start to feel down on Sunday because the weekend is over.
“It bothers them because it interferes with their enjoyment of the remainder of the weekend, just like post-holiday blues bother people because it’s a reaction to a pretty positive experience,” he says.
While holiday depression (depression caused by or triggered by the holiday season and events) tends to be more serious, especially for people who have preexisting mental illnesses, the post-holiday blues tend to be lighter and more manageable. But it is important to be aware of your triggers.
“If a person struggles with loneliness, or if they’re unhappy in their day-to-day life, and it’s not been the greatest year, but they’ve had a really good period of holidays, they might anticipate that those feelings will come back even stronger once the holidays are over,” he adds.
“When it gets to a point where you have a decrease in sleep or appetite, crying spells or thoughts of hopelessness, that’s when it’s becoming depression, or it’s triggering a physical depression that you might need help with.”
How to cope with post-holiday depression
There are several ways to cope if you feel down after the holidays are over. One way is to change your mindset with an attitude of gratitude practice.
Make a list of the things you are thankful for, and do this daily with meditation or prayer. This simple thing can totally change the way you manage your day and the symptoms of post-holiday depression.
Exercise can also help you deal with feelings of sadness after the holidays. Physical activity reduces stress and stimulates the production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins.
As we mentioned in our last blog, you don’t have to make a New Year’s resolution. But it can help to set a reasonable goal for yourself, such as walking for 20 minutes a day five days a week. Also, look for ways to seek out humor, such as watching funny movies or TV shows – laughter releases endorphins.
When post-holiday depression is more serious
Finding a trusted person to talk to about your feelings, such as a friend or a therapist, can be especially beneficial. It can be harder to manage depression or guilt if you keep them bottled up, but talking about those feelings can help validate them. Making a human connection and talking through your feelings is so very important.
If you or a loved one are feeling down, the therapists here at Waters Edge Counseling can help. Give us a call, and let’s work together to make 2023 the best year yet. 912.319.5552 or email us at email@example.com