The first few days of January can be difficult. Here is how I try to avoid the post holiday blues and new year anxiety.
It’s January 3rd and the Christmas trees are still twinkling (yes we have one in almost every room in our house). We aren’t like other families in our neighborhood – tossing the tree out by the road the day after New Years. Instead, we prefer to hold on to the cozy magic of the holidays for a few weeks after Christmas Day.
I don’t know about you, but the first week of the new year is more anxiety provoking than thrilling. Saying goodbye to the holiday season is one of my least favorite things to do – let alone saying goodbye to an entire year. That’s why I don’t typically celebrate New Year’s Eve with a big GOOD RIDDANCE and always opt out of making New Year’s resolutions.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64% of people report being affected by holiday depression, and it’s most often triggered by financial, emotional, and physical stress of the season. But for others, coming down from the high after the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ (and the inevitable return to work) can bring on a bout of the post-holiday blues too.https://www.psycom.net/depression/post-holiday-depression
How I Try to Avoid the Post Holiday Blues and New Year Anxiety
Keep the Memories Alive
I find it hard to say goodbye to the most wonderful time of the year all at once. There is SO much I love about the holiday season. The traditions, the music, the anticipation and excitement of what’s to come. Celebrating our daughters’ birthdays, the family gatherings, and the pure magic felt every day. I even love the pesky Elves. Unfortunately all good things must come to an end – but I have learned the best way to hold on to what we love is to keep the memories alive. This year I’m making a photo album of our special times together!
Don’t Take Down the Holiday Decor All At Once
Not only do I enjoy the warmth and nostalgia each tiny tree, reindeer, and Santa brings to my home, but I also dread the feeling of emptiness that’s left behind. We put our Christmas decorations away little by little – starting with the live tree in our family room before it becomes a fire hazard. Then the winter decorations stay up until February – with the addition of a few Valentine’s Day touches.
Acknowledge How I’m Feeling
Despite all of my complaining, I secretly enjoy feeling busy during Christmas because it gives me a sense of purpose. There is an obvious rush of adrenaline and stress with being in charge of a never ending To Do list. I love the responsibility of either doling out jobs to the family or doing the shopping, baking, cleaning, and wrapping of gifts. The reward for the fruits of my labor is always the gleam in my daughters’ eyes and their joyful smiles!
Once Christmas is OVER, I begin to feel horribly anxious. I start worrying about nothing and everything all at once. I feel a heavy sense of LOSS for the seasons’ end and sometimes the sadness is overwhelming. For years I have been diagnosing myself with the holiday blues for the first few weeks of January.
Thankful for my weekly therapy sessions, I learned something about myself and the blues. Whenever I am depressed after a holiday or vacation, I’m not actually depressed. I’m just feeling a LOSS of what I became accustomed to: a high level of activity. Isn’t it weird to suddenly sit still when you’ve been moving non-stop since before Thanksgiving?
GET BUSY After the Holidays
So what is one to do with these feelings? GET BUSY. Organize your home. Try a new workout. Take up a hobby. Focus on your job, family, relationships, etc. Make a new To Do list that will keep you moving (physically or mentally).
I guess this is why people come up with New Year’s Resolutions, right? A resolution give you something to focus on – but as I have previously stated, I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Instead I set intentions for the new year AND get busy as soon as the kids are back in school. This month I’m throwing myself into my blog, spending time outdoors with Arbor (yay for exercise), and de-cluttering my house. I also want to go to Yoga or take an online dance class.
More Tips for Avoiding Post Holiday Blues
Looking for more tips for avoiding (or getting rid of) the post holiday blues? There are LOTS of online resources – as well as mental health experts out there who you can talk to. If you are feeling down, don’t hesitate to ask your PCP for a mental health referral OR visit a site like BetterHelp.com to locate a therapist near you.
Note: Not everything that works for me will work for you. All of my Mental Health blog posts are tips and tricks I’ve learned from my personal therapist or gathered from reputable medical online resources. PLEASE don’t let your mental health suffer and reach out to someone ASAP if you are feeling sad, depressed, anxious, or unlike yourself.