What are the post-holiday blues? And, why do we feel blue after the holidays?
The post-holiday blues describe feelings of fatigue, lack of motivation, loneliness, sadness, and disconnect. It’s no wonder some of us feel this way when the festivities conclude. The holidays are a time merriment, busyness, gift-exchanging and get-togethers with family, friends and coworkers. It’s a collective experience we share within our families, our community, our faith and our country. It can conjure deep feelings of connection, love, gratitude and joy. During the season of advent there is the build-up of excitement and anticipation which is certainly amplified if you have children!
Having post-holiday blues is normal and to be expected to some extent. You’re not alone if you feel a little sad or a lot let down. The good news is there are some strategies to help you get over the hump so you can look forward to starting the new year off with a similar level of excitement and anticipation. After all, wouldn’t it be wonderful to feel that way ALL year long?
Here are 8 ways to beat the post-holiday blues.
1. Be easy on yourself.
Self-care practices during this time are a game changer. Nurture yourself with organic, clean food, movement, and good quality sleep.
2. Don’t judge yourself for feeling blue.
Observe your thoughts and be aware of what your inner dialogue sounds like. Oftentimes the blues stem from our own internal thought patterns. The key to disrupting negative patterned thinking is to separate yourself from the thoughts you’re having. Be the observer. Meditation is a great way to practice this.
3. Schedule time to connect with friends and family.
Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean time with those you enjoy has to end. Even though we tend to get back into our daily routines of work-home-sleep-repeat, be deliberate and plan activities with your friends and family as if it were the holidays. Use this post-holiday time as an opportunity to start something new, like a dinner club, a restaurant club, or a monthly movie night. Take a local class with some friends once a month. Set up a consistent, monthly activity with friends that is built into the calendar.
4. Plan something to look forward to.
Look at your calendar for the upcoming year and plan vacations and fun activities to give you something to look forward to. Studies show that the anticipation of a vacation is just as rewarding as the actual trip. Having things to look forward to is good for your health!
5. Spend time outside in the sunshine.
Plan time outside in the sunshine if possible. Exposure to sunshine has a great impact on the body’s production of vitamin D. It can also alleviate symptoms of depression, seasonal affective disorder and improve sleep quality. Vitamin D is known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it can only be produced by the body when exposed to natural sunlight. Vitamin D is critical for overall physical and mental health. It protects the body (including the brain) against inflammation, lowers high blood pressure, and may protect against cancer. Aim to get between 5-15 minutes of sunshine a day (without sunscreen). If you live in a northern climate, be sure to consult with your primary care provider about vitamin D supplementation.
6. Keep a gratitude journal.
Keep a gratitude journal. The act of writing out what you’re grateful for each day has positive effects on your mental and physical wellness. Studies show keeping a daily gratitude journal increases self-esteem, cultivates resilience, fosters hope, improves decision-making, and makes us more empathetic which allows for better, healthier connections. The physical benefits include a reduction in risk factors ranging from memory and digestive issues to diseases caused by systemic inflammation. Journaling lowers stress which is good for the mind and the body. You can buy a pretty notebook to write in or you can type in the notes section on your smart phone. Start small. Write out just 1-3 things to start. Make each day mirror where you are in the moment. If you feel like writing 3 pages one day, go for it. If you only have time for bullet points while in line at the coffee shop, that works too. There is no magic formula for gratitude journaling. Play around with it and see what works best for you and your busy schedule. The key is to start and do it each day.
7. Limit alcohol and stay hydrated
Limit alcohol and stay hydrated. Alcohol in small amounts here and there doesn’t cause much systemic damage. But if you partook in excess over the holidays, I recommended pausing alcohol consumption to allow your body to recalibrate and rehydrate. Purified water is by far the best beverage for the human body. If you crave some flavor, get creative with different flavor combos to infuse your glass A few I like are lemon, lime, cucumber and basil. Here’s a quick tip. In the morning I prepare a pitcher of flavored water and have it at the ready for refilling my reusable water bottle all day long. Sparkling water is another nice alternative.
8. Be mindful of emotional eating.
Be mindful not to soothe yourself with food. Emotional eating is using food to comfort and soften bad feelings. Keep your diet clean and healthy by doing a pantry audit. I suggest clearing out the cookies, snacks and other processed food that may have accumulated in the pantry over the holidays. Replace the processed snacks with healthier alternatives. The same goes for your refrigerator and freezer. Take time to plan out meals and healthy snacks so you’re not caught off guard when hunger hits.
Bonus tip: Give back.
Continue the spirit of giving by donating new or gently used items to a local charity organization. It feels good to give, it tidies up your space and it helps those in need. You can’t beat that!
The post-holiday blues are a real thing. Many of us experience it. If you feel the blues coming on, try some of these strategies. If you ever get to a point where it feels unmanageable, reach out for support. Connecting with a therapist in your area can be an empowering next step in helping you move forward past the post-holiday blues. You’re not alone. There is support.
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