Posted on November 12, 2019
If Christmas decor showing up in stores in October is any indicator, the holidays are majorly hyped. A month of vacation, sparkling lights, romantic Hallmark movies, hot drinks, idyllic snowy settings ––it’s no wonder some people crash and feel sad in the following weeks or months after December. Following a season of holiday stress and hustle and bustle, it’s no wonder you find yourself feeling sad, and possibly seeking help in the form of a friend to lean on or a therapy matching service. Not to mention, your house is probably a mess and some of that cozy time for family gatherings was most likely fraught with old grudges and trauma.
If you’re thinking, “It’s me,” you’re not alone. Some studies show as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown post-holiday depression symptoms. Relatives aren’t always familial. Holiday expectations for gifts are unrealistic. Oh, and Hallmark movies are definitely not real. Some may not even have many friends or family to spend the holidays with. Those who are prone to feeling low might experience post-holiday depression, but there are ways to get ahead of the January funk.
The holidays are the perfect excuse for … just about anything. Don’t let it be! Just because your schedule is out of whack doesn’t mean your routine has to go completely out the window. Keeping your routine will help you reduce holiday stress and transition to the post-holiday period. While it’s important to loosen up and enjoy the festivities with friends and family, make sure you get plenty of exercise, sleep and a few salads in between parties. The endorphins, rest, and nutrition will help combat post-holiday depression before it even starts, and help you face the new year with a solid foundation and a healthy mood.
Just because the holidays are over and everyone went back to work doesn’t mean the fun needs to stop. We often use the holidays as an excuse to spend time with loved ones, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen all year long. Ride this renewed sense of closeness and make plans with friends and family. Schedule happy hours, weekend trips, and cozy dinner parties at home. You’ll stay surrounded by your support network and give yourself something to look forward to before those post-holiday depression blues have a chance to settle.
It might sound like a lot, but try to do something small for just yourself at least three times a day. Have an extra cup of coffee. Make the bed. Go for a 15-minute walk. Watch that terrible reality show your partner hates. Fight off post-holiday depression with kindness towards others, as well as yourself. It’s actually transformative to care for someone else. Whether it’s finally getting around to visiting an older relative, volunteering with a local non-profit, or shooting a text to a friend who’s been going through a tough time, focusing on someone else’s needs will help keep yours in perspective and have a positive ripple effect.
If you are taking antidepressants, the holidays are not a great time to stop, even if you’re riding a Christmas high. Keep any and all medications the same and talk to your psychiatrist if you feel like they aren’t doing their job. Likewise, even though scheduling can be difficult over the holidays, try not to take too long of a break from talk therapy. Ask your therapist if they can do sessions over the phone or video chat if you’re taking a long vacation.
Although the holidays can bring anxiety and stress for some, it's a time of joy that should linger throughout the year. To deal with holiday depression after-the-fact, taking care of your mental health will be key. At Advekit, we empower you to identify the symptoms, practice self-care, and speak with a mental health professional. Our therapist matching service can help set you up with the right therapist so that you can return to work and your everyday life feeling rejuvenated by the holiday period, not drained. If you find yourself dealing with anxiety or depression post-holidays and have questions about therapy, reach out to us today! We’ll get you started on staying mentally healthy during the holidays and afterward.
Alison LaSov, LMFT
Alison LaSov is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist with experience treating clients struggling with anxiety and depression. She predominantly focuses on mental health intervention for children and adolescents, particularly those who are in crisis. She has worked within the Los Angeles education system treating students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), as well as supervised a non-profit Teen Crisis Hotline out of Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Alison earned her B.A. from UCLA and M.A. from Pepperdine University. She is a native to Los Angeles and co-founder at Advekit.