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Today is Blue Monday, which has been coined the most depressing day of the year. The Christmas decorations have come down, the holiday cheer and excitement has worn off and the post-Christmas blues have set in.
There are no more parties to look forward to or presents to buy, and our friends and family have returned to their world. It’s back to business as usual. But such a sudden shift in realities can bring on the post-Christmas blues. Which can cause us to feel worried, sad, anxious, and lonely.
If you’re feeling a little ‘blah’, keep reading for some helpful tips that’ll help you combat the post-Christmas blues once and for all.
WHAT ARE POST-CHRISTMAS BLUES
So, it’s a new year, time to go back to work. We should be excited about entering the new year and making it better than the last, right? Well, that’s not the case for everyone.
All the festivities and excitement have come to a sharp stop and now you’re trying to readjust to ‘normal life’. Which can be challenging when things don’t feel as exciting compared to December.
Also referred to as post-vacation syndrome, post-Christmas blues are described as the low mood, depression, anxiety, and stress that come around the holidays. Caused by intense emotions, stress, and activity.
It’s pretty common to feel a little down at this time of year. According to a survey, “64% say they were affected by holiday blues and 24% said it affected them a lot”.
So, you’re not alone!
Post-Christmas blues share a lot of the same symptoms as clinical depression or anxiety, ‘however, the difference is that these feelings are temporary. Despite that, these feelings should still be monitored and taken seriously.’
WHY DO WE FEEL SO DOWN AFTER THE HOLIDAYS?
The Christmas period is one time of year, when we’re pressured into being happy and ‘hella’ social, more than any other time of the year.
But suddenly it’s January the adrenaline rush is over, and we have to adjust back to our normal lives, which according to experts can have a major impact on our mental and physical health.
Yikes. Talk about being slapped back to reality.
Although there is limited research in this area, some experts claim that such a sudden shift in realities, is one of the major causes of post-Christmas blues.
This is also known as the contrast effect, a “phenomenon where people perceive greater or lesser differences than are actually present as a result of prior or simultaneous exposure to something with similar base characteristics, but different key qualities.”
In other words, it’s our brain’s way of trying to readjust between drastically different realities and experiences.
6 THINGS THAT COULD BE CAUSING YOUR POST-CHRISTMAS BLUES
The holiday season is the one time of year that differs drastically from our everyday lives. Our normal routines go out the window. With a lot more social activity, days off work, overindulging in food and alcohol and having high expectations for Christmas day.
But once we’ve finished our Christmas dinner leftovers and brought in the new year, we’re launched back into normal daily life, which can feel like a drastic switch.
Such a comedown can make the realities of day-to-day life feel boring and anxiety ridden, compared to the previous month of holiday cheer.
Apart from the adrenaline dip and contrasting reality, there are some other things that can also cause the post-Christmas blues, which include:
- Financial stress – According to global data reports, holiday spending rose by over 6.7% compared to 2021. It’s the time of year that we ‘spend, spend, spend’. But once the holidays are over and the bills roll in, those spending sprees may have you stressed out or in financial trouble.
- Lack of sleep – The holiday season may be the only time of year where we have so many events happening-back-to-back, planning events, late-night gift-wrapping sessions, meaning late nights and poor sleep.
- Toxic environments – Instead of the picturesque holidays that we see in the movies, you may have had a time filled with arguments and toxic behaviours. Disappointment, unmet expectations can also be a trigger for the holiday-blues.
- Loneliness – Once the holiday season is over, we all return to our normal routines, homes, and corners of the world. Which often means we fall back into not seeing or contacting each other as much. This can also seriously affect your mood, cause loneliness and spur on the post-Christmas blues.
- Overindulging in alcohol and food – Mulled wine, cakes, chocolates, turkey and all the trimmings. We have it all during the Christmas period. Let’s just say our diets aren’t the best. Alcohol, as well as sugary food, has been proven to contribute to depression. Which could explain why we don’t feel our best come January.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) – The holidays fall during the colder and darker months, which is also the time of year that many suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Decreased sunlight and change in weather can also contribute to post-holiday sadness.
10 Ways to Feel Better & Kick the Post-Christmas Blues
Plan things to look forward to
Holiday prep starts way ahead of time. From buying gifts, organising activities, and filling your calendar with all the fun to come. It builds up so much anticipation and things to look forward to.
But not having anything to look forward to once the festive season is over can make the post-holiday period feel dull and sad.
So, build that same excitement by planning things to look forward to once the holiday period is over.
Whether it’s planning a holiday or booking a few days off work, give yourself something to be excited about.
Stay connected with friends and family
Once New Year’s Day ends, our loved ones suddenly go back to their daily routines and often we lose touch with each other, which can make you feel lonely or disconnected.
So how about this, instead of making get together’s a ‘holiday thing’, keep in contact and see each other often even after the holidays are over.
If you can, why not arrange regular phone calls or meetups. This will help you feel more connected and less lonely.
Reboot your exercise routine
When the festive season comes around, our exercise and gym routines take a backseat.
It’s hard to be intentional about working out when you’re nursing a hangover,or, got home at 4am after a Christmas party.
But movement is medicine! Evidence has shown that “exercise is beneficial for mental health; it reduces anxiety, depression, and negative mood, and improves self-esteem and cognitive functioning”.
If you’re feeling blue and struggling to find the motivation to exercise, keep things simple and fun to get yourself moving again.
How about a daily walk in the park, whilst listening to your favourite tunes? Or teaming up with a friend to join a fun class or activity that will get your heart pumping.
Get back into a routine
Between the constant travel, work parties and one too many glasses of mulled wine, keeping to your normal routine is near to impossible.
Now that the Christmas period is over, you may feel a little disorganised and disorientated.
It’s time for a reset!
Get back into your normal routine, or switch things around if that helps. Add some structure back into your days.
Feeling more organised will also help reduce the anxiety that comes with the post-Christmas blues.
Re style your home (or not)
Have you taken all your Christmas decorations down?
The house might feel a little lack lustre without the bright lights and Christmas tree. So why not give your home a mini makeover?
Give it a fresh new feeling to add a little more excitement and vibrance back into your home.
Or, if you’re still in the Christmas spirit and the thought of taking your decorations down makes you feel sad…
Leave them be!
There are no rules. Do what makes you feel best!
Nutrition and Hydration Restart
The holidays are both exciting and stressful, which is why we’re more likely to reach for the (ten) mince pies, chocolates and all the stuff we ‘should‘ be having in moderation. It doesn’t help that it’s everywhere we turn, making it even more difficult to resist.
But all that sugary junk food can contribute to anxiety levels and depression.
So, let’s restart, and introduce more nutritious foods into our diets and drink more water. Which will help aid in digestion, boost our mood and stop us feeling so sluggish.
Get your sleep-in check
During December, we’re partying till crazy hours of the morning, having midnight movie marathons and skimping on sleep.
Who needs sleep when you’re having fun, right?
But studies have shown that poor sleep can contribute to depression, anxiety and so many other health conditions.
So, get your sleep back in order and aim to get at least 6 hours of sleep each night. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it.
If the post-Christmas blues have taken a hold of you, you’re defo in need of some self-care.
I know it’s hard to find motivation when you’re feeling down, but it’ll make you feel better, mentally and physically.
It doesn’t need to be anything expensive or challenging. Maybe journalling to help boost your mood, or, get your nails or hair done to boost your self-esteem and have some ‘me’ time.
If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this list of self-care ideas, there are so many to choose from.
This feeling will pass
It may feel you’re alone or that this feeling will last forever, but I’m here to let you know that the post-Christmas blues are common, AND temporary.
So, for now, stop being so hard on yourself!
STILL FEELING the post-Christmas BLUEs?
If the post-Christmas blues are lasting longer than you expected, be sure to speak to your therapist or healthcare provider as there could be something else going on.
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