Unwrapping the Post-Holiday Blues in Moms

by | Jan 11, 2024 | Blog

While the holidays are synonymous with joy, togetherness, and celebration, the period that follows can prove to be anything but. As the boxes of decorations are moved back into the attic, it’s not uncommon for complex emotions to take over. The phenomenon known as “post-holiday blues” takes place when the chaos of the holidays has come to an end, leaving behind feelings of emptiness, anxiety, and frustration. This slump can have particular effects on mothers, who often take the lead on holiday planning and are therefore more susceptible to the highs and lows of the holiday season and beyond.

The post-holiday blues share many characteristics of anxiety and mood disorders. Sadness, loneliness, anxiety, insomnia, and disappointment are common traits, and are often confined to the winter months.

Emotional labor, expectations, and repression

Mothers often bear the brunt of emotional labor during the holidays. According to research done by the American Psychological Association, women are more likely than men to report an increase of stress during the holiday season, citing lack of time, lack of money, and pressure to give presents as primary stressors. The pressure to buy the perfect gifts, decorate the home, and prepare elaborate meals can be emotionally taxing, and mothers will frequently spend weeks planning, organizing, and ensuring that everyone in the family has a memorable and magical experience.

Social media has contributed to an unrealistic set of expectations surrounding the holiday season. As we scroll through countless posts of elaborately decorated houses and piles of perfectly wrapped presents, it’s easy to find ourselves comparing our holiday celebrations to those of others. Many mothers feel responsible to create a picture-perfect holiday atmosphere for their families, and often face a sense of letdown if they fail to meet these expectations.

The period of Thanksgiving through New Year’s is a chaotic time, and busy parents frequently spend every spare moment focused preparing for celebrations. With so much time and energy focused on others, it is easy to neglect your own mental wellbeing, pushing any negative emotions aside in order to focus on the long list of things that need to get done. January brings time to catch your breath and reflect, leading to weeks of emotions bubbling to the surface. These repressed feelings will be difficult to handle all at once, and will result feeling overwhelmed and burned out.

Manage the post-holiday blues

The post-holiday blues don’t have to be inevitable. Be sure to set boundaries with family and friends in order to avoid stretching yourself too thin, and reach out for help before you begin to feel overwhelmed. If symptoms have already set in, take time to yourself and focus on self-care. Prioritizing things that make you happy are key in escaping the feelings of loneliness and isolation that are all too frequently associated with the winter months. Focus on eating well, exercising, and staying mentally stimulated. Most importantly, be gentle with yourself and remember that, even if the holidays didn’t go as planned, you are still a great mother.

If you are a new mom and worried about how you are feeling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Contact the North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center at (516) 626-1971 to get the necessary support you need.

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