By Guest Blogger Aieshah Ashfer
As we all start to get used to the rhythm of the new year by embracing new beginnings, we may begin to feel as if we are in an unwanted emotional slump. Going back to work, school and the rigid routines we’ve formed for ourselves after a period of rest and relaxation isn’t easy. This is especially the case when bouncing back from the holiday season. The letdown we feel after the holidays can be described as the “post-holiday blues.”
What are post-holiday blues?
Post-holiday blues share many of the same characteristic symptoms of an anxiety or mood disorder: insomnia, low energy, irritability, difficulty concentrating and anxiousness. The abrupt withdrawal of stress hormones after a major event – in this case, the holidays – can greatly impact our biological and psychological well-being. Even if your holidays weren’t as merry as they could have been, the brain heavily exaggerates the realities of day-to-day life, making the return to the mundane seem profoundly more anxiety-inducing and saddening than it actually is.
What causes post-holiday blues?
The exact cause of these feelings will vary from person to person, but often they are triggered by unrealistic expectations of what the holiday season should be like. Post-holiday blues are often the result of failing to put boundaries on demands and then feeling sad about the outcome.
How do I cope with post-holiday blues?
There are several ways to cope if you feel down after the holidays. One way to do this is through a small gratitude practice. List the things you are thankful for and make that a daily practice combined with meditation; that simple act can really reframe the way that you manage your day and manage some of these stressors. Exercise can also help you deal with feelings of sadness after the holidays. Physical activity reduces stress and stimulates the production of feel-good chemicals, also known as endorphins. So can volunteering and giving back to your local community. It can also help to seek out humor, such as watching funny movies or TV shows, because laughter releases endorphins. Finding a trusted person to talk to about your feelings, such as a friend or a therapist, is especially beneficial. It can be harder to manage sadness or guilt if you keep them bottled up, but talking through those feelings can help to validate them.
Dealing with post-holiday blues isn’t easy. It is normal to feel these emotions after a big anticipated event like the holidays, but knowing that there are numerous healthy ways to cope with this letdown makes it much easier to get through it.