How To Cope With Christmas Depression
Christmas depression - it sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Everyone should still be feeling remnants of holiday happiness after those holidays are over, right? Not necessarily. There is a condition known as "post-Christmas depression," or "post-holiday syndrome," that kicks in for some people after the fun has officially wound down. Transitioning back into the normal swing of things can be easier said than done for some people.
The good news is that you are not alone in these feelings. What follows is a list of seven things that can help you cope with post-Christmas depression and can help you feel more comfortable transitioning back into the normal, nine-to-five of everyday life.
1. Embrace the misery.
Allow yourself to accept that it is often not easy to readjust to normal life once the holidays are over. This feeling should only be temporary. Try to revel in the moments that you don't have to experience now that the season is over, like worrying whether everyone will like the gifts you bought, pleasing that one relative that you just can't stand, or putting up the seemingly endless decorations that are always easier to take down.
You don't have to worry about attending any more parties for a while - which may require that you buy even more gifts - nor do you have to worry about acting like a fool at the office Christmas party. If, on the other hand, your Christmas or New Year's Eve did not live up to your expectations, then you may feel down about things not going according to plan. That's okay. Accept that things can only get better, and embrace the normalcy of your everyday routines that are here to save you from that holiday madness that won't be back until next year.
2. Don't get too hung up on your New Year's resolutions.
New Year's resolutions can be the quickest way to set yourself up for something that you can't live up to, which ends up crashing you right back down again. You may have set a goal that you wanted to lose 30 lbs. By the end of January, but you feel guilty every time you polish off one of those never-ending Christmas goodies in the office kitchen.
First, don't beat yourself up. Losing 30 lbs. in 30 days is unrealistic and unhealthy. A healthier goal is to lose one pound per week. If you can't do this right away, don't get discouraged. You have all year to make this goal a reality - and that's a lot easier to do when the edible trappings of Christmas aren't still hanging around.
3. Take measures, whenever possible, to spend time with the people you love.
Some people feel post-holiday blues when their friends or family members all go back home after the holidays. One way to combat this is simple: take a few minutes each week to reach out and connect with those you love with a text, a phone call, or a quick update on social media. While the weather's still cold, you can ask them to a movie, or invite them to join a class with you to learn a new skill or discover a new hobby. When the weather warms up, maybe make plans for a summer barbecue or a night out for dinner and drinks.
You may also want to consider joining a group on Meetup. Meetup is a helpful resource for those who want to spend time with folks who share similar interests, but who have difficulty finding others to do those things with. Can't find the right group for you? Start one yourself! In no time at all, you'll find yourself connecting with and enjoying time with people you might otherwise have never met.
Just make sure you stay within your budget to avoid unnecessary and unwanted debt. This will have the opposite effect: making your post-holiday depression worse instead of better.
4. Remember to think positive for the long-term.
Sure, it can be disappointing when the excitement you've been planning all year is over in a matter of hours. But, conversely, this is also the best time to remember the positive moments still yet to come over the course of the next year, like your child's birthday, your birthday, a trip you've been planning all year, or even an income tax refund.
While every year has its good moments and bad, it's helpful to stay positive and think of all the things you can look forward to doing in the upcoming seasons. Maybe you like to lay in a backyard hammock in the spring or go to the beach in the summer. Maybe you enjoy making Smore's by the bonfire during the fall months. These little moments are the highlights of a year and can make it easier to cope with post-holiday blues. When you spend more time thinking about the happy things, you'll inevitably spend less time fretting over things that bring you down.
If you can't find anything to look forward to, make some. Plan a summer vacation to a place you've never been before. If you have a particular goal in mind, like renovating your kitchen or meeting a new romantic partner, you can spend this downtime planning how you are going to achieve those goals and how you will be spending the rest of your year to make your dreams a reality.
5. Focus on eating healthier.
After the holidays, it's common for us to beat ourselves up over all the garbage we might have eaten. Cookies, cakes, chocolates, candy canes, liquor - and that's just snacks, let alone Christmas dinner! The holidays are the fastest way to ruin a person's diet, and the easiest way to bring someone down once they're over.
The fastest way to get over your guilt about the food you ate in the past is to make healthier choices going forward. Drink water or diet soda instead of regular soda. Swap out cookies and candy for fresh fruits and vegetables, like raw broccoli and carrot sticks with a dollop of dressing for taste. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week, and make sure that you're getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night to feel your absolute best.
In addition to getting healthier physically, making these kinds of choices will also help you feel better mentally, which speaks volumes to your overall wellbeing and the kinds of choices you will make and habits you will set for yourself as the year progresses along.
6. Reflect on the good times.
Hindsight is 20/20. Now that the holidays are over, you can re-live the happier moments now that you've had a moment to breathe and relax. Remember your son's face when he opened that present he had asked for all year? Remember how happy you were that the turkey was fully cooked and that all the food came out hot and on time? Remember how lovely it was to have the whole family in the same room again?
Sure, it can be sad when these things come to an end, but think of how wonderful it was to take a break and escape the humdrum of everyday life for a couple of weeks. Be thankful for the break that the holidays can afford and that it gives you a chance to feel rejuvenated and more ready, willing, and able to take on the world for another year.
Breaks in the routine and the excitement that accompanies them are wonderful for the human spirit, but so too is the rest we can enjoy when that excitement dies down. When we relax, we can better focus on our studies, our jobs, and our home lives and truly reflect on where we are in life now and where we eventually want to be. We wouldn't be able to relax to such a level without the permission the holidays give us to let loose first, and the excitement that comes from setting new goals to achieve is almost as sweet as that which accompanies Christmas.
7. When all else fails, talk to someone.
If you have tried one or several of these methods And nothing seems to work, or if you have noticed that you have been feeling post-Christmas depression for several years in a row now, please do not hesitate to reach out to our counselors at BetterHelp.com, who are here to help 24/7 via your internet connection.
The downtime after the holidays is an ideal time to seek out professional help because your stress level is significantly lower than it is during the holidays. Now that Christmas is over, you no longer need to worry about who you impress with your cooking, or who you're making happy with a gift. Now you get to focus on ensuring that you are happy, and the best way to do that is to seek help for the things that are bothering you if you cannot seem to fix them on your own.
In addition to professional help, you may also want to seek out financial help as well. Many folks spend significantly more than they had planned to spend during the holiday season and find themselves in debt as a result. Don't let that debt plague you all year long if you can help it - or worse, grow bigger. Seek a financial professional's help so that you can gain control of your finances before they gain control of you.