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What is Post-holiday Blues and How to Deal With It

Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

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Christmas usually demands more emotion and finances than other holidays. When both challenges and vivid feelings diminish with the end of the celebration season, some people may slip into post-holiday depression. It may also be a natural consequence of Christmas blues: statistics indicate that 46% of people are worried about finding gifts [1*] and 25% get stressed about family gatherings, to name a few. But since these factors are associated with the holiday season, why does post-Christmas depression occur after these triggers disappear? While there is no single answer, let’s review possible causes of post-holiday blues, common symptoms, and how to overcome them.
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What Are Post-Holiday Blues?

Post-holiday blues or post-holiday depression are terms used to describe pessimistic feelings after the end of celebrations. This phase usually happens when people return to their regular daily activities after the thrill and delight of holidays, frequently characterized by relaxing time, get-togethers, and quality time with loved ones. Both unrealistic hopes for the ideal holiday and the stress brought on by holiday spending might exacerbate these emotions.

Feelings and Symptoms to Look Out for

The post-holiday blues may come with the following symptoms once the holidays end:

  • Low mood
  • Anxiety
  • Increased irritability
  • Feeling of emptiness
  • Low energy level
  • Insomnia
  • Intense nostalgia
  • Financial worries
  • Loss of appetite

Generally, post-holiday blues last for up to two weeks. When they stay for a longer period, consider seeing a healthcare professional to get assessed for seasonal affective disorder or major depressive disorder.

Go through a detailed assessment and receive a detailed treatment plan for depression online.

Winter Blues vs Post-Holiday Blues

“Winter blues” is associated with a milder form of seasonal affective disorder or SAD. It is a type of depression that typically appears in the fall and winter when there is less natural sunlight. Reduced sun exposure can affect mental health, impact the body’s natural clock, circadian rhythms [2*] , and the production of melatonin and serotonin [3*] , two hormones essential for mood and sleep regulation. Symptoms of the winter blues include poor energy, exhaustion, irritability, difficulty concentrating, altered sleep habits, and increased appetite, particularly for carbs. Conversely, the post-holiday blues are unique to the time after the holidays and involve melancholy and disappointment. These feelings are associated with the emotional and social dimensions of the holiday season and can make one feel down because of getting back to routines. So, post-holiday blues are more time-limited, usually showing up right after the holidays, whereas winter blues can last throughout the colder months.

What Causes Depression After the Holidays?

Holiday cheer often brings excessive emotions, so routine life may seem dull when the holidays are over. You might experience emptiness similar to the situation when you achieve a significant milestone and don’t know what to do next and what awaits you ahead. Moreover, there are a few more potential causes of sadness, depression, and anxiety experienced after the holidays, for example:

  • Unmet expectations. Having unrealistic plans for the ideal holiday season might cause disappointment and exacerbate depressive symptoms when it doesn’t live up to expectations.
  • Emotional exhaustion. The excitement of spending time with your loved ones and anticipation of holidays usually gives you an emotional high. Therefore, when the holidays are over, a sudden drop in your emotional excitement can result in depressive feelings.
  • Social isolation. Feelings of loneliness may arise from returning to a more solitary schedule following the holidays, particularly if one spent a lot of time with family and friends.
  • Financial strain. Stress about money needed for food, decorations, and gifts may dampen holiday cheer. For some, the celebration may cost more than anticipated, which could induce post-holiday stress [4*] .
  • Holiday diet. During the holiday season, you most probably consume lots of sugary treats, desserts, junk food, and alcohol. Research indicates that unhealthy diet increases the likelihood of depression [5*] .
  • Insufficient sleep. Traveling, late-night movies, and staying up to decorate the house or wrap gifts may significantly interfere with your sleep schedules affecting your mood [6*] later on.

How to Get Over Post-Holiday Blues

It is possible to bring an end to holiday depression by using a comprehensive approach. Below, we’ll review the most common tips for overcoming it.

Practice Self-care 

To get over post-holiday blues, do something that will make you feel better. Take some time to devise ways of lifting your mood. After a season of overeating and little sleep, your body and mind could require more activity, healthy routines, reading favorite books, taking baths, and reflecting on positive moments.

Create a Routine

Your body becomes accustomed to a more relaxed schedule during the holidays but it will benefit more from a routine. You can resume healthy eating habits, start exercising, go for walks, and ensure you get enough sleep for good mental and physical health.

These small daily habits will revitalize your body and improve your well-being. Besides, they will help you beat depression after Christmas before it becomes a medical concern. Instead of slipping into depression and having low energy, you will keep active and productive after the holidays.

Connect With Loved Ones

Get in touch with friends and family members to avoid feeling lonely and cope with post-Christmas blues. Be around people who bring you joy any time of the year. You can watch movies together, share jokes, or go out on weekends. This way, you’ll build new memories instead of feeling nostalgic about the holidays.

Schedule Time for Fun

You might have engaged in ice skating or snowboarding during the celebration season, so returning to less fun and more work might make you depressed after the holidays. However, you can bring some merriment into your life by slotting some fun hours into your schedule.

Set a Financial Plan

Experiencing financial issues once the holiday is over can also cause depression after Christmas. To avoid frustration, craft a budget plan to control your expenses and ensure you stick to it.

Be Physically Active

Regular physical activity is an accessible way to boost the release of endorphins. These are the body’s natural mood enhancers which can also help reduce anxiety and stress. The nature of physical exercise also requires mindfulness about the process, which relaxes the mind and contributes to calmness and better concentration.

Get Enough Sleep

Sufficient sleep is essential for both physical and emotional well-being. During holidays, your sleep patterns may get disrupted, so it’s important to get back to your sleep routine to let your body and mind rest better.

Does self-help seem not to be enough?
See a healthcare provider to get professional support for depression.

When to Seek Help

If lasting for a long time, post-holiday blues can interfere with your productivity at work and eliminate all the feelings of joy you had over Christmas. However, learning to overcome this emotional state with the tips listed above will ensure you regain your footing as you start your year. If you notice the symptoms remain for too long and are intensifying, seek help from a mental health professional and get a personalized plan for overcoming depression.

FAQ

The days following Christmas may be depressing since it marks the conclusion of the festivities, the return to regular schedules, and the realization that the long-awaited holiday season is over. Post-Christmas blues may also be caused by unfulfilled expectations and the contrast between the excitement of the holidays and everyday life.

After a holiday, it’s common for some people to experience emotional reactions, including crying. Sadness, nostalgia, and a sense of loss are among the emotions that might arise as one returns from the intense sentiments and activities of the holiday season to the routine of daily life.

Everybody experiences post-holiday depression for a different duration of time. It is usually a brief phase that lasts a few days. However, it is advised to seek expert assistance if symptoms worsen or persist.

Some tips can help you cope with post-holiday depression, even if it might not be totally avoided. Arranging activities for the post-holiday period, practicing self-care, maintaining social connections, and setting realistic expectations can help ease the transition to ordinary routines.

Sources

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6 sources
  1. https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/Unassigned/APA_Holiday-Stress_PPT-REPORT_November-2021_update.pdf
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  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6751071/#Sec15title
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  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/
    Source link
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8863240/
    Source link
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4620299/
    Source link
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217155/
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

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This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.