Post-holiday blues also known as post-vacation blues, or post-travel depression. It is a sense of low mood, sadness or depression that may happen after returning from a holiday or excursion. It’s a frequent occurrence that affects everyone of any age and is caused by a myriad of causes. Possible reasons for the post-holiday blues:
- Readjusting to the demands of daily life and returning to work following a period relaxation and recreation
- experiencing a feeling of longing or loss for those who were there and the places that you visited during the holidays.
- feeling a decrease in energy or mood because of the change in routine, diet or the environment
- dealing with financial stress or concerns related to the travel facing financial stress, such as the cost of travel or jetlag
The signs of blues after the holidays could include feeling sad and unmotivated, as well as anxious or experiencing changes in appetite or sleep. These symptoms may be temporary and disappear in several days , or even weeks but the symptoms may remain and need regular intervention. If you’re suffering from post-holiday blues that are affecting your day-to-day life, it’s important to seek out support from friends family members, friends, or a professional in mental health.
Here’s what you should do when you experience post holiday blues, How to prepare for them, and some helpful strategies to make you feel more upbeat throughout January and beyond.
What is post holiday blues?
There are only a few studies about holiday mood. However, an earlier survey from 2006 conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) revealed that 78 percent frequently felt happy, while 68 percent of people often or even occasionally felt tired.
Similar to holiday sentiments, the concept of blues after the holidays has yet to be extensively studied, even though some studies and experts claim it’s pretty typical.
“Postholiday blues refers to the feeling of sadness after the holidays are over,” says Angela Ficken, LICSW, a Boston-based psychotherapist.
It’s a downer that can occur after a hectic season of visiting friends and family. It’s like how people feel after the most anticipated events like weddings and vacations.
Rae Mazzei, Psy.D., BCB, A health psychologist from Arizona, has shared that the typical symptoms of postholiday blues could include:
- regret over things you said or didn’t say or do
- the feeling of emptiness caused by a streamlined calendar with less or celebrations
- loneliness is a less crowded environment with fewer people and events to go to
- sorrow that the holiday season ended or the holidays didn’t turn out as you hoped they would be
- difficulty sleeping due to anxiety or difficult emotions
What causes the post holiday blues?
A study published in 2011 by the Trusted Source found a decrease in the number of people who use or are being admitted to mental health emergency care and self-harming behavior or trying or taking suicide as the Christmas season is nearing.
However, there was a rise across the board after the holidays.
There are various reasons people may feel blue after the holidays. The article by Mike Dow, a psychotherapist at Field Trip and New York Times bestselling author of “The Brain Fog Fix.”
- We hope everyone else had a wonderful time with their families during the holiday season.
- Family problems, such as the separation of families
- existing mental health problem
- drinking alcohol in excess or binge drinking during the holidays.
Dow states that loneliness and isolation are the most prominent factors contributing to the postholiday blues. This is from epigenetics research into how behavior and environmental influences affect how genes work without changing DNA.
“The loneliness stress can “activate” genes that are responsible for mental illness, especially in people with a family or personal background,” Dow says.
On the other hand, Dow notes that people who like spending time with family and friends could experience an increase in the neurotransmitters that make you feel good such as dopamine, serotonin, and Oxytocin.
As the season ends, the boost and the downtime begin.
A survey of more than 1,000 Americans suggested that 47 percent of males and 40 percent of women were in alcohol consumption during New Year’s Eve more than any other day of the year.
In the study, “binge drinking” meant having five or more drinks in a row for men and four drinks or more for women within two hours.
The CDC defines binge drinking as Source as drinking four drinks or more during one occasion for women and five or more drinks for an event for men.
Although it’s not about post holiday emotions, specifically the study, a study in 2020 of the population in Singapore connected binge drinking to mental health problems and a lower quality of life.
Making preparations for the post holiday blues
You may think it’s too early to start thinking about the post holiday blues; however, Dow states that it’s never too early to make prevention plans.
Set limits for the holidays
Your experiences during the holidays are the main reason for feeling the blues that come after the holidays.
Being obligated to go to gatherings with family members with who you don’t agree or taking part in customs, you don’t like can result in feelings of discontent.
You could also take a look at your friends’ happy photos on Facebook and be inspired.
” Set boundaries particularly if you’re a person-pleaser,” Dow says.
The boundaries could mean that you have to skip certain family events. However, you might be capable of reaching an agreement that is a good fit for the person you love while preserving your mental well-being.
“If your mom asks you to return home for 10 days however, you become increasingly stressed at home, go to a weekend away,” Dow suggests. “If you’re more at ease in the hotel, you could stay there.”
Set up a self-care routine
The need to stick to a routine can be complex when you’re juggling the holidays. However, Ficken suggests that regularly taking time for yourself will assist you in transitioning into the new season.
“The festivities and holidays may be gone. However, your self-care routine isn’t,” Ficken says. This consistency will help you through the blues.”
Ficken suggests that this routine doesn’t need to be complicated. It could be as simple as walking every week or having coffee with a close partner each Friday morning.
Utilize the buddy system.
Many people feel blues postholiday following hectic social occasions. The abrupt isolation may trigger feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Friendship with your friends can allow you to feel more connected. If you’re worried about post holiday blues, You should give anyone you trust to be aware.
“Connect with your friend and request what you require in very specific and positive demands,” Dow says. “It’s more convenient for your most trusted friend to keep in touch with you on a daily basis by texting if you ask for it.”
A few snarky statements, such as “The period after the holidays isn’t fun,” may only elicit some chuckles rather than an actionable, supportive response from your acquaintance.
During these discussions, be open about your emotions.
“Look at your network of support and then share some of your holiday blues experiences with them,” suggests Kiana Shelton, LCSW of Mindpath Health.
Some people may be experiencing similar feelings. You’ll feel less lonely.
The practice of gratitude throughout the festive season allows good feelings to continue throughout the rest of the year.
“Try to identify three things that you’re thankful for each day,” Mazzei recommends. “Continue the practice following the Christmas season.”
The research conducted in 2019 showed that gratitude might boost happiness.
Plan time to have enjoyment.
Social interaction is an essential aspect of better health. After the festive celebrations have ended, the empty calendar can seem a little sad. Making sure you fill your calendar with activities you love can give you something to look forward to and will help minimize the effect of contrast. It’s easy to retreat when you’re struggling—engaging in and gaining face-to-face time with acquaintances and others who you love, even when you do not feel like it can be a great way to get a boost.
Even if you’ve got a system of support and coping strategies, you could be shocked by how challenging the post-holiday blues can be this year.
If you feel negative emotions creep onto you, Dow suggests a three-step procedure.
It is possible to acknowledge your feelings through writing or speaking to someone else; however, this step is crucial.
“There’s the sweet spot that is in between contemplating the solitude and refusing to acknowledge the feeling,” Dow says. “Once you recognize your feelings, they’ll appear to be manageable.”
Dow states that re framing your feelings, even the most difficult ones, lets you consider the need for change.
“Lonely? The time is now to establish deeper connections,” Dow says.
Empty? Think about volunteering or doing something that brings meaning to your daily life. Do you feel depressed? It would help if you changed things this year.
In the end, return to the gratitude journal and list three things you’re thankful for.
Professional support lineup
If the blues that follow the holidays tend to take a toll on you, make sure you have expert support in the first place.
“You might want to schedule an appointment to see your counselor on the day that follows Christmas in case you’ll need this,” Dow says.
It could be a shock to be down, especially if you put in a lot of effort to improve your mental health throughout the year and have been able to cut back on therapy sessions.
But Shelton stresses it’s important to be patient with yourself.
“Adjustment periods can be challenging to master, but with the help of a few tools, you’ll be able to get yourself back in the realm of normal quickly,” Shelton says. “Consider this as a brief mental health check-up.”
You can find therapists through:
- Referrals from family and friends
- healthcare providers
Mental health professionals claim that post holiday blues are a normal reaction to adjusting to life after the winter holiday. A variety of reasons for different individuals can cause them.
If you suspect that you suffer from post-holiday blues and depression, you can plan for them ahead of time. Set up support groups, like your therapist or friends.
Making self-care routines year-round and planning fun activities in January and February could aid in easing the transition.