Post-Holiday Depression - How You Can Manage Anxiety and Stress after the Holidays

What happens when all of the Christmas decorations come down, the family and social events come to a halt and you’re left with the reality of getting back to work or school? For many, the void left after an emotionally-charged holiday season can bring post-holiday depression, commonly known as the holiday blues or a holiday hangover.

Why do we feel this way?

A variety of sources list the possible causes of the holiday blues as potential guilt from holiday overindulgence, unfulfilled expectations, unreasonable resolutions and feelings of loneliness from the slowdown of social events.

Every holiday is shaped by the events that precede it (right up to the day before the holiday). This can impact the holiday itself and therefore the emotional and physical aftermath.

How do I know if I am experiencing post-holiday blues?

Common reports of post-holiday depression include feelings of general sadness and loneliness and typically lasts a short period of time, but other types of depression can linger. See your primary care physician if your depression lingers, or if you experience any of the symptoms below, as they may require further medical evaluation:

  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Severe fatigue or loss of energy
  • Significant weight and appetite differences
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

What can I do to overcome my post-holiday blues?

The first step is to recognize that you are experiencing feelings of depression, and that it is only temporary. Just because the happiest holidays of the year have passed doesn’t mean YOU have to pretend to be happy. The worst thing you can do is deny that you are feeling depressed.

Here are a few additional tips to help kick the blues out the door:

  1. Get plenty of sleep. A full night of restful, uninterrupted sleep is especiallyimportant to brain health and establishing and maintaining good habits is a key component in managing depression.
  2. Take care of yourself. The holidays can be a time of overindulgence. Reinstate your normal diet (and make healthier choices if your diet was already lacking in nutrition) and plan an exercise routine. Start small by taking a walk after a meal or reducing the amount of time you spend sitting down.
  3. Stop and take a breath. It’s important to not pressure yourself by piling on New Year’s resolutions.
  4. Look ahead. Concentrate on upcoming events such as birthdays, concerts or a group get-together.
  5. Embrace and share the memories. It’s okay to remember the events of the holiday season, even if they didn’t go the way you had planned, and it’s even better to talk or laugh about it with other people.
  6. Reach out for help. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a loved one, someone in your inner circle or a health care professional. You are not alone.

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