With so much excitement leading up to the holidays, and so many expectations around what you want them to be, it’s no wonder that after the new year arrives, many people experience a letdown of some sort. So how can you prevent post-holiday blues from setting in? Use these five strategies to help you hang onto the joy and peace of the holiday season and bring it with you into the new year.
What the Holidays Weren’t This Year
Let’s be honest, the holidays themselves may have been a bit of a letdown this year. You might be thinking, how can I prevent post-holiday blues when I already had holiday blues and preholiday blues?
This year you couldn’t spend the holidays celebrating with family and friends the way you have in the past. Maybe you couldn’t see your family at all. Or maybe this was the first year in decades you couldn’t have some of your holiday traditions.
The global pandemic affected everyone’s holiday. It created a sense of loss for our normal way of life, created an actual loss of time with people we love, and for some of us a loss of the people themselves.
How Post-Holiday Blues Sneak In
Even in a normal year, the excitement, stress, and activity of the holiday season can leave you feeling worn out.
Then, the idea of transitioning back into the same old day-to-day routine can leave you feeling a little sad or disappointed.
Maybe you didn’t accomplish all that you thought you would in the past year. Maybe Covid-19 ruined all your best-laid plans or prevented you from getting to those resolutions you’d made for yourself New Year’s 2020.
Sometimes, it’s just the aftermath of the holidays that catches up with you. You might be reeling from an argument with your mother, or mad at yourself for having one too many to drink a few too many times, or for eating more Christmas cookies than you wish you had.
Another source of the post-holiday blues for many people is dissatisfaction with relationships (or lack thereof), especially during this season. This holiday alone might have left you feeling lonely or upset that you can’t date as easily under pandemic restrictions. Or you might be feeling exhausted and on-edge from constantly fighting with your partner after a year of having no personal space.
Whatever the combination of reasons, you’re not alone in feeling a little down after the holiday season.
Many people feel this way each year, and perhaps this year more than most in recent history. It makes sense to feel down after so many losses and so much upheaval.
You’re not alone. And it can get better.
Prevent Post-Holiday Blues
So, if they build from all these different sources and sneak into your emotional state, how do you prevent post-holiday blues? Use these helpful strategies to beat post-holiday blues and bring joy and energy into your new year.
1. Identify what’s bothering you (your triggers)
It’s easier to face an opponent you can see. The trigger becomes more manageable when you can identify it, and it’s easier to gain control of difficult emotions when you recognize and identify them. So, name the things that are bringing you down.
Is it a sense of disappointment in how the holidays played out? Are you grieving the loss of something or someone? Are you feeling irritated with, or distant from, your partner?
Take a look at the factor (or factors) that are playing into your post-holiday blues this year (which probably include adjusting to life in a pandemic). Recognize that they are legitimate reasons and legitimate feelings. Which brings us to strategy number two:
2. Allow space for your feelings
The only way out is through, as they say. The feelings you’re having about the holidays, or the realities and losses of this last year, are valid and normal. Acknowledge them and allow yourself to feel them.
Stuffing feelings does not eliminate them, it only pushes them down where they wait or grow until there are too many to ignore.
Recognize that you’re not alone in feeling the sadness or exhaustion that comes after the holidays. Prevent post-holiday blues from setting in by saying, “I see you, sadness. I’m giving you your time, but I’m not giving you everything.”
Give your exhaustion space with a little rest, and then a little pick-me-up. Remember to move your body and take in fresh air and sunlight whenever possible.
3. Be kind to yourself
This year was a monumental change for everyone. Every single person on the globe was affected in some way by this pandemic. Just as you would be gentle to a friend, neighbor, or even a stranger who was going through a change, loss, or upheaval—be gentle to yourself.
4. Turn to your partner
Prevent post-holiday blues through connection with your partner. Turn to your partner for support, as they are your best and closest source—and they need the connection, too!
Benefits of investing in your relationship include better resilience, confidence, self-esteem, and overall physical and mental health.
If you and your partner have been struggling this year, you might also take the opportunity to invest some time in connection and rejuvenate your relationship.
5. Seek professional help
Sometimes a trained listener makes the difference between feeling stuck in your emotions and finding your way out. Professional counseling can be an incredibly helpful boost to get you over the post-holiday hump and keep the blues from setting in.
These days, it’s even easier to access therapy through the convenience of online sessions. Online therapy works well in this age of social distancing, but also for your already busy lifestyle.
About Dr. Irena
Dr. Irena has over twenty years’ experience working with women and couples. She is trained in Emotionally Focused couples therapy and enjoys helping her clients find the connection and support they need through the holiday season and beyond. If you would like to schedule a session, email her for a free 10-minute virtual consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (281)-267-1742.