Post-holiday blues is a short-lived mental distress, anxiety, and sadness that arises after the holidays. It's normal for people to experience this after the craziness of the holiday season and then feel a "let down" when it is over - "post-holiday blues". Instead of settling into “normal” life you may be feeling some post-activity depression that so many descend into. With the intense level of holiday activity behind you, instead of feeling at peace, the emotional result is not happiness but depression. You may feel as empty as the refrigerator that was previously filled with a feast of food or the guest room that your out-of-town visitors stayed in. The good news is it doesn't typically last long.
Why get blue after such a time?
Although it may feel like depression, it is not so much that as it is a feeling of loss. Most people have high levels of activity starting with Thanksgiving through New Year’s. The high point could be the four-day Thanksgiving weekend or the New Year’s Eve party you've been looking forward to all year. Often, the activity has intense moments of fun, delight, or joy, even if the entire experience was not so great. Even if your holidays were more stressful excitement than fun, you most likely had a lot of activity - the preparations, the socializing, the travel, the family visits - four or five weeks with lots to do. Then, suddenly, it's over. Overnight, you lose the sense of excitement; you lose the activities filling your time; you lose the involvement with other people. The highly anticipated moments are done. For many people who suffer from depression, the stretch of time over the holidays offers enough diversion to help them ignore depressed feelings for a while. Then - Bam! - the holidays are over, and the feeling of depression is felt even more intensely. You may have the same dilemma - the diversion of the holiday is done, and the post-holiday blues set in. Loss feels very much like depression, and depression makes it harder to get out of that "space". But if you can recognize this feeling as loss, you can find a way to correct it and resolve this unhappy feeling.
One of the first steps in beating the post-holiday blues is realizing that this mood of loss is really an adjustment to less stimulation. What you have “lost” is the high level of activity you have become accustomed to. Even if you haven't been depressed, you may experience this sudden letdown. Have you ever felt odd and at loose ends after you finish a project at work? Maybe you have been surprisingly depressed at the end of the semester at school when you thought you would be so glad the work was over. Maybe you have felt empty at the end of a vacation, even if you were glad to be home.
Here are some ways to get through the post-holiday blues:
Talk to somebody verbally, not by texting. Think about someone that you enjoy
Go out of the house. Get away from the feeling of emptiness or lack of activity
Get some exercise. If you're feeling the blues, it's likely you will want to just sit and stare into space or binge-watch a tv show. Before you give in to that, go for a walk or a run. You will be pleasantly surprised at the mood shift.
Look forward, not backward. Contemplate one thing you would love to happen in 2024. It doesn't have to be huge, especially with your brain already feeling blue, but think about your one thing and then make a plan to make it happen.
Slide-out of the holidays. If you're going to watch TV or do another activity, pick something that has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday, so you don't inadvertently go down the road of what you've just gone through with the "loss" of holidays ending.
Putting a plan in place before entering the holiday frenzy may help prevent post-holiday blues and assist in the transition from holiday to regular life:
Allow a day or two to adjust between returning from the holiday and starting back to work
Return to a regular sleep schedule
Plan some enjoyable leisure/social activities
Keep up regular physical activity
Practice relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation
By taking charge of your mood, you will be able to close the door of sad negative feelings faster and get past the post-holiday blues.