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The Post-Holiday Blues: How To Prevent Stress & Depression After The Holidays

You can’t quite pinpoint what’s wrong.

You had an amazing holiday season—you ate delicious food, saw old friends, and reconnected with family––but you still feel down. It’s not just your imagination. It’s an effect commonly known as the post-holiday blues, and it can happen after even the greatest of celebrations.

In general, this melancholic feeling is your body’s response to the adrenaline comedown of the holiday season, when your mind worked in high overdrive for days or weeks at a time to cope with constant stimulation.

Although most psychologists wouldn’t refer to it as “serious” depression, the post-holiday blues are troubling, confusing, and a downright bummer nevertheless. So what can you do about it?

Stop the January gloom before it happens. With these 6 tips, you can prevent the post-holiday blues and take in the new year with a positive, energetic outlook.

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1. Feel Everything Fully

A sure way to feel crummy after the holidays is to deny your feelings in the moment.

Think about it: During Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, you may interact with old relatives you haven’t seen for years, have an argument with your siblings, or hear your nephew make a snarky remark about your appearance.

These interactions can drum up a lot of difficult emotions (understandably so). Putting these feelings away until after the holidays will only make them more gnarled when they finally do come to the surface.

Remind yourself to feel everything fully over the holidays...even the good stuff. Otherwise, those magical moments that make the holidays so special will pass by you like they never even happened. You’ll be too stuck in your own head to enjoy the moment of your granddaughter opening a present, or you’ll be so busy managing everyone else's emotional state at dinner that you won’t enjoy the roast turkey.

Take a moment each day to close your eyes, breathe consciously, and focus on whatever feelings pop up, good or bad. You don't have to do meditation (although studies prove that even 5 minutes of meditation can greatly improve your emotional state), just remind yourself to be present with your feelings so they don’t resurface after the holidays.

woman-exercising-outdoors-new-year-resolution2. Start Your Resolutions Early

The post-holiday blues are often exacerbated by the looming pressure of meeting your New Year's resolutions. While the new year is an excellent time to plan for the future, for some individuals, setting resolutions can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety and guilt.

Rather than putting off your new fitness routine until January first, or delaying your new hobby project, get a head start on it before Christmas hits. That way, you’ll already have momentum going when you hit the new year, rather than feeling like you're starting something new from scratch right when you’re feeling your lowest.

Even if you’re sporadic in tending to your goal through the holidays, getting a head start ensures you carry positive momentum into the new year.

3. Avoid Sugar As Much As Possible

Of course you’ll indulge in Christmas cookies, cakes, and candies this holiday season. You don't want to deprive yourself completely. But be aware that sugary foods are linked to depression.

A high sugar intake can make you more irritable, cause fatigue, and may lead to inflammation (which leaves your immune system more susceptible to illness). And nothing leads to the holiday blues more than stepping on the scale on January 1st and seeing you’ve put on weight. 

To keep your sugar intake under control, replace the desserts and sweets with as many natural sugars as possible. Stevia is a healthy alternative, as is swapping snacks with fresh fruit.

4. Schedule Activities For The First Week Of January

Our social calendars are usually chock-full during the holiday season. Work parties, family get-togethers, and friends keep us occupied nonstop. Then, on January 1st,  we go from barreling down the social life expressway at 100 miles an hour to slamming on the emergency brakes with nothing scheduled for weeks after the new year.

Going from being a social butterfly to a couch potato will mess with anyone’s psyche. A great way to mitigate this sudden change is to go into the holiday season with events planned for early January.

  • Set up a small activity like bowling or mini-golf) for your local family members.
  • Set up an after-work event for your coworkers (who are probably feeling the same post-holiday blues).
  • Sign up for a new fitness class.
  • Go on a mini-staycation in your town for a weekend.


5. Go Easy On The Booze

Alcohol is a common coping mechanism for dealing with challenging emotions and relationships during the holidays, but it’s only a temporary solution.

Drinking too much can disrupt your sleep, your digestion, and your ability to process your emotions, all of which can exaggerate the post-holiday blues. Not to mention you're more likely to get in a drinking-related car accident or have a drinking-related driving violation during the holidays.

If you can’t cut out the booze completely, limit yourself to a single drink per holiday event. That way, you can still enjoy yourself without having to deal with nearly as many negative effects of drinking heavily.

middle-aged-woman-drinking-coffee-content6. Expect The Blues

Some psychologists suggest that what we experience after a big event like a wedding, vacation, or holiday isn’t necessarily sadness: it's our reaction to renormalization.

You got used to a certain way of living during the holidays, when you were waking up at irregular times, eating more freely, and spending time with people you love who you may not see again for a long time.

It’s hard to get back to “normal” after such an intense experience–normal may even be disappointing. But if you accept that the blues are coming, its impact will lessen or perhaps even disappear completely.

Keep The Blues At Bay, No Matter The Time Of Year

Sometimes, no matter what you do the blues still come. After the smoke has cleared, your family’s flights have departed, and you’re left to clean up after the party, you may still feel the lingering sadness. The best you can do is take a few simple–but incredibly effective–natural steps to minimize the post-holiday blues as much as possible.

At Matrix Age Management, we know how hard it is to get a fresh start on the year when you’re still processing the holidays. That’s why we offer customized plans to get your year started right with a menu of options to improve your sleep, nutrition, fitness, and hormone optimization.

For more information on how Matrix Age Management can help you, schedule a consultation.

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Tags: Stress, Mental health

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