Beating the Post-Holiday Blues

by T.W. Winslow

After I take down the Christmas lights, pack away the holiday decorations, cut up the Christmas tree and haul it out to the curb for collection, I suddenly begin feeling a little depressed. All those warm feelings and the excitement of the holidays are gone. The short January days and long cold nights don't help matters, nor does receiving my first credit card statement of the new year. I know I'm not alone. Many people around this time of year find themselves struggling with the post-holiday blues. 

This year I thought, rather than allowing myself to feel apathetic and lethargic, I would seek out some advice on how best to beat these holiday blues. In speaking with others about this, I was surprised to learn how common this annual depression is and how many good tips people have to deal with it. 

The following are a few suggestions for beating the post-holiday blues: 

Look ahead to next year. Start thinking about ways of making next Christmas even better. Think of new traditions to start, etc. 

Don't pack away all your Christmas decorations. Leave a few around the house as a reminder of the spirit of Christmas.

Buy an artificial tree or large plant and place it where your Christmas tree stood. You can even decorate it with lights if you wish.

Take time to write letters to those you visited or to those who visited you. Thank them for the time you shared together.

Write thank you notes to friends and family who sent gifts or provided you with Christmas cheer. Don't forget to have your children do the same.

Gather up the rolls of film you shot over the holidays and get them developed. Spend those dark, cold winter nights putting together a holiday album. Include notes about the pictures, the funny things that were said, the laughter, the way you felt, etc. 

Replace some of the incandescent lights around the house with fluorescent lights. This can help compensate for the lack of exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun.

Play upbeat music in the background while at work and at home.

Bundle up and get outside, even if just for a short time.

Spend time with people. During the holidays, we are constantly connecting and interacting with friends and family. This can leave us feeling a little lonely once the holidays are gone. Make a point to spend time with those you enjoy - meet for lunch, have friends over to the house, go out for a night on the town, etc.

Volunteer. Part of what we love about Christmas is the feeling of goodwill. Spread a little goodwill throughout the year by volunteering with a local charity, school, or other organization.

Think about the other aspects of the holiday season which mean the most to you, then find ways to recreate that spirit in your everyday life - caring, sharing, rejoicing, celebrating, etc. 

Exercise. Take a daily walk, join an aerobics class, etc. 

Put some money in savings - even a little can make you feel more positive.

Make a plan to pay off those Christmas bills and credit cards.

Start planning a summer vacation.

Try a relaxation program, get a massage, do something every day just for you - take time to read, have tea in front of a sunny window, enjoy some quiet time, take a bubble bath, walk, swim, etc.

Watch your diet. With the holidays comes frequent consumption of sugar, alcohol, fats, etc. Now is the time to get our bodies back on track. Increase consumption of fiber foods, consume smaller portions of protein, try adding natural B complex vitamins into your daily diet, drink at least four glasses of water per day between meals. Eat fewer sweets and reduce alcohol consumption. 

I hope some of these tips will help in dealing with the post-holiday blues. If you find yourself still feeling depressed, see your family doctor and/or contact your local Mental Health Association, community mental health center, or: 

National Mental Health Association
1021 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone 800-969-6642
Stigma Watch Line 800-969-NMHA
TTY 800-433-5959

The holidays may be over, but that's no reason to get depressed. Joy, laughter, charity, goodwill, friends, family... these things exist throughout the year. With a little effort, the spirit of Christmas can live in all of us always. Give a few of the above suggestions a try or come up with a few ideas of your own. With any luck, we will all be able to beat those post-holiday blues.