Why Do the Post-Holiday Blues Happen?

Coping with Post-Holiday Blues and Depression

The twinkling lights have been taken down, the last cookie has been eaten, and the holiday music has gone silent. As the fanfare of the holiday season melts away in January, many may feel a touch of sadness or emptiness in its wake. This experience has names like the “post-holiday blues” or the January “low-mood slump.” For around 15 million Americans who face seasonal affective disorder and 10 million more battling general depression, this time of year brings added challenges.

While not a formal clinical diagnosis, the post-holiday comedown is a common phenomenon impacting many people in the cold, dark winter. This blog will explore actionable coping strategies backed by research and Therapy Connection’s own licensed providers. Start the new year off right by learning healthy ways to lift your spirits if struggling with melancholy after celebrations have ended.

Why Do the Post-Holiday Blues Happen?

Disruptions in Our Routines

The holidays often involve travel, time off work, staying up late, and disrupting our normal schedules. Returning to everyday responsibilities in January alongside limited sunlight hours can negatively impact moods. To ease back into regular routines, check out Therapy Connection’s articles on maintaining balance as a working parent (link to relevant therapy site content). Slowly readjusting while allowing flexibility prevents added pressures.

Increased Loneliness & Isolation

Many people experience peak socialization around the December holidays only to feel a gaping hole in connections come January. Therapy Connection’s group counseling options allow struggling individuals to share stories and support. Feelings of loneliness can intensify seasonal sadness but talking through them lessens their power.

Financial Stresses

Studies show financial strain compounds January’s cold weather in amplifying rates of depression by up to 49% (source). The pressure to overspend on gifts before January credit card bills set in contributes to worry. Review with your therapist your goal for finances and make a pay-off plan to decrease stress.

Weight Concerns & Negative Body Image

The idea of needing to diet or workout intensely after holiday indulgences provokes shame for many. Unhealthy toxic messaging around New Year’s resolutions can undermine body positivity gains made recently. Banning negative self-talk is essential too.

Grief & Loss Resurfacing

The holiday season often awakens painful memories of losing close loved ones. Coping with death anniversaries against the backdrop of social cheeriness heightens this heartache for grieving parties. Please check in with your clinician if you are in need of bereavement counseling services if reeling from reopened wounds. There are always sympathetic ears available in this judgment-free zone.

How to Combat Post-Holiday Gloom – 5 Research-Backed Strategies

Below we’ve compiled proactive, constructive ways to care for your whole being – mind, body, and soul – when seasonal blues creep up according to our in-house experts:

1. Seek out mental health support

Processing underlying feelings with a professional therapist works wonders to prevent a slight dip in mood from snowballing into major depression. Therapy Connection offers seamless access to licensed counselors across all areas negatively impacted post-holidays including grief support, body image issues, managing SAD, and more specialized concentrations. Connect instantly through our portal for guidance custom fit to your unique situation, challenges, and aspirations. Joining group sessions also lessens isolation promoting a hopeful outlook.

2. Flood your surroundings with light

Increasing exposure to lamp light containing high lux units shows comparable mood-boosting effects to actual sunlight in battling seasonal affective disorder (SAD) according to research. When the sun sets at 5 pm in the dead of winter pulling the shades can feel irresistible, but allowing natural light in whenever possible goes a long way. Positioning workspace and living areas near windows, taking frequent walks outside, and removing clutter that blocks light are small tweaks with dramatic benefits. If symptoms persist, discuss light therapy options with your therapist at Therapy Connection.

3. Stimulate dopamine production 

Dopamine signals pleasure and enjoyment within the brain helping fend off listlessness. When sunshine is limited in the winter months we have to activate our inner dopamine factories through healthy habits consciously. Setting micro-goals related to hobbies, passions, or acts of service gives you rewarding bursts of accomplishment. Scheduling social events whether virtual or in-person also sparks feel-good neurochemicals waning post-holidays. Consider joining a winter rec league team, club, or group activity. Both casual gatherings with close friends or committing to a short-term community project surround you with positive people, productivity, and laughter – natural remedies for any hardships faced recently.

4. Establish and abide by sleep hygiene principles

Sleep struggles and depression have a bidirectional relationship meaning they mutually reinforce each other. After the excitement and irregularity of the December holidays, little motivation exists to return to regimented rest. But cementing a regular bedtime routine now safeguards against plummeting energy and mood later on. Our certified sleep coaches at Therapy Connection equip clients with customized sleep hygiene toolkits containing science-backed recommendations for better nightly rest regulation long term. Check-in with your clinician to work through this. Dedicate this month to rebooting your sleep cycle through earlier wind-down periods, limiting screen usage, natural sleep aids like magnesium glycinate and weighted blankets.

 5. Move your body daily

While frigid temperatures make the thought of exercising repellant, a few small habitual movements go far for emotional well-being. Just a 15-minute walk, stretch session, or simple bodyweight circuit in your living fuels feel-good endorphins and circulation. For low-impact cardio try bouncing on a small trampoline to flood cells gently with oxygen without the hardness of pounding pavement. Don’t let a perceived lack of time be a barrier. Incorporating small pockets of activity repeatedly beats exhausting, rigid resolutions prone to failure. Offering yourself this compassion lays the groundwork for sustainable change.

The Takeaway

Post-holiday melancholy arises due to multiple psychological and situational factors. set a stone Italian Level 2 Instead of harshly chastising yourself, access Therapy Connection’s judgment-free mental health and counseling resources. evidence-based strategies for protecting your whole being. The New Year offers blank space to write aspirational intentions setting you up for bright days ahead. minor setbacks disguise room for growth – together we will uncover it with compassion as your guide.

 

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