So many of us enjoy the holidays with fervor. But to others, it leads to depression often called the “Holiday Blues” once it’s all over. If you’ve ever had a case of a “Blue Christmas,” just know that you aren’t alone and there are things you can do about it!
Christmas can, unfortunately, feel like a letdown for people. After weeks, maybe even months, of decorating, shopping and wrapping, baking, visiting and being visited, the whole thing is over in a day or two. The house that was sparkling clean is now in need of another cleaning and the Christmas decor needs stored away for another year. It’s hard to “make your spirit bright” when you feel the stress of cleaning up and taking things down after Christmas.
If you’ve ever felt this way, you are not alone. Some studies show that as many as 25% of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays. The hype and excitement and, yes, expectation, for jolliness buoy up many in the buildup to the Big Day. But then expectations hit reality. Relatives aren’t always kind. Gifts aren’t given and received in the spirit intended. The fantasy that maybe this year will be different is dashed yet again. It’s hard for even the most resilient not to feel a letdown. And, for those who are prone to depression already, the weeks after a holiday can feel like the emotional rug has been pulled out from them.
But here’s what you can do to help yourself:
Take care of yourself – From Halloween to New Year’s, Americans tend to redefine the basic food groups to sugar, fats, sugar, and sometimes alcohol. Just keep eating enough of the right foods. We all know this, and yet during the holidays, “enough” is redefined as “stuffed.” Get back to a healthy diet with reasonable portions. Add a walk at least once a day and keep your regular bedtime. Keeping your body on a schedule will help keep your mind more balanced. Regular routines of self-care may have disappeared over the past month but you can reclaim them. Reduce or eliminate alcohol for a little while if you feel that it’ll help you sleep.
Take Time to Meditate or Pray. Focus on what did go right over the holidays. Be truly grateful for those who spent time with you. It’s an old-fashioned idea but “counting your blessings” is an antidote to the blues.
Don’t Let The Kids Stress You Out – If the kids are home for a week or two, they may be exuberant. They may be demanding. Kids are. Often their overactivity is a bid for attention. If you give them attention in a way that is pleasant for you as well, they may well settle down. Encourage them and spend time with them instead of allowing yourself to get annoyed, maybe thinking of a fun activity you can all do together. Get down on the floor and enjoy kid time. Play with the blocks and Legos. Help the kids make a fort or tent with the couch cushions. Read together. Mostly be grateful that they are OK and want to play with you.
Do Something For Yourself – Call a friend to talk. Take a bath. Light some candles and read. Do what makes you happy and helps you relax, even if it’s something small. We all can get overwhelmed, and if the holiday season has the tendency to do that to you, take the time to do something for yourself!
Make yourself a cup of tea and give yourself ample time to savor it! There are so many options here that it’s hard to list them all, but the idea is to focus on what you need in order to be in a more happy place.
Get Enough Sleep – Giving your body the necessary time to recharge is essential to beating any bad mood, It’ll also help boost your energy and make you feel better if you’re beating a cold.
Find Something To Look Forward To – If you crave the togetherness of the holidays, start planning a Valentine’s or St. Patrick’s Day party in advance. Look for fun activities to do and focus on having people around you at other times as well.
The truth is, what works for one person may not help the next. But these tips will hopefully help put you on a path to a more enjoyable year, and fewer hours feeling weighed down by those holiday blues.