Tips to Combat the Post Holiday BluesAnna Ciulla
The holiday season is a joyous time of year when the family gets together, trees are decorated, dreidels are spun, warm drinks are enjoyed by the fire, and everyone is merry. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Let’s be honest, the holidays are not as perfect as Bing Crosby makes them out to be, and the time just after can feel like a hangover. This is commonly known as the post-holiday blues. If you are a recovering addict, the stress can be even greater over the holidays, because there’s a good chance everyone around you will be drinking, happy, and engaging. In short: these may not be the situations you’re yet comfortable with. In which case, depression can set in during or after the holidays because of a multitude of factors. Below, we’ll discuss some tips on fighting the infamous post-holiday blues.
For most people in the real world, the holidays induce stress from overspending, overeating, entertaining, dealing with the kids home from school, or traveling. Post-holiday blues are common and not necessarily a sign of clinical depression. Often kids experience a major crash and become extremely irritable after a vacation of high expectations, relaxation, and freedom. Adults feel the effects at work when trying to focus or shift back into normal routines.
The Contrast Effect
One reason for post-holiday depression is what experts call “The Contrast Effect,” where the brain must shift back and forth between two drastically different situations; the high-voltage charge of the anticipation and expectations of the holidays back to the dull and quiet post-vacation existence. The depression is the brain’s way of trying to adjust to the ‘new’ normal.
Adding to the blues is often a decrease in sunlight during the winter months. Seasonal Affective Disorder chemically weakens the body as less serotonin is produced because of a lack of sunlight. Let’s be frank: the winter is an emotional time of year.
Get Back on Track
Many experts recommend taking charge of your body and your life to combat the post-holiday blues, and it could be a hidden opportunity to increase your strength over an addiction. During the incredible rush of the holidays; a time filled with excitement, anticipation, and stress, your body is riding high on adrenaline. When January hits, a crash is often inevitable as stress dissolves and leaves your body feeling empty and depressed.
Exercising is a great way to reduce stress and reclaim your happiness. Especially in the time just after the holidays, getting the blood moving will empower you to get out and do things, which can help combat your depression. The extra sunlight will help, too. Go on a hike, go for a bike ride, jump in the ocean or a pool, go for a run, enroll in a yoga class or a stroller exercise group. Any of these activities will release endorphins and reduce stress.
Nutrition and Sleep
We tend to eat poorly and excessively over the holidays, but setting yourself up with lean, healthy meals will greatly increase your happiness and wellbeing. A good night’s rest will also benefit your ability to get back on schedule, and this can be done by acclimating once more to your time zone several days before you return. You can do this by going to bed earlier or later, or by cutting your trip short by a couple days to ensure your body will adjust for you to be at your best—especially if you must immediately return to work!
De-Clutter Your Home and Workspace
Cleaning, throwing things away, donating unused items, switching the furniture around, organizing, and straightening out is in itself therapeutic, but the finished product—a streamlined clutter free desk or home—can propel you into the new year with a productive mindset. This is the new year, which means it’s a time for positive change.
Whether it’s finding a better job, developing an exercise routine, planning the next vacation, or any number of personal aspirations, make a plan and put it on the calendar. Having something to look forward to, no matter how far into the future, allows the brain to start thinking about the next adventure and avoid dwelling in the doldrums of post-holiday life.
Why not help someone out over the holidays? Put all that good cheer to use and volunteer at a food bank, help out at the school, visit the animal shelter, or help with a special-needs person. The bigger the job, the better you will feel about yourself. Any selfless act which uses your time is kryptonite to depression. Helping others is another form of therapy, too.
Wrapping it Up
Knowing the root causes of post-holiday blues is knowing how to remedy the negative feeling. It’s okay—the holiday season is over and things are going to return to normal. For addicts, however, this time can be especially challenging as they try to maintain their sobriety. Stay active, healthy, keep a fresh perspective and don’t let up on routine. Turn the post-holiday blues into positive motivation.