Beating those Holiday Blues

It’s easy to feel let down after the Christmas presents are opened, the relatives and friends have packed up and moved out, and it’s time to return to work.

After all, some of us have spent more money on gifts and activities than we’d planned. Others built the holidays up to such euphoric heights that day-to-day life can’t possibly compete. And still others might have experienced quarrels with family, bad feelings from over-eating or failure to exercise, and the “sadness” that often arrives during the shortened grey days of winter.

While I don’t profess to be a therapist, I know several tricks for beating the blues that can come after the holidays are over:

  • Eat healthy. Okay, so you slacked off your diet during Christmas. Big deal. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just start today to eat healthy again. Back to the fruit and veggies; away from the cream pies and liquor.
  • Exercise. Join a gym or the Y. Put on your sneakers and walk at the mall. Start a yoga program. Try some new exercises described in magazines. Just get moving! And you’ll stick with it longer if you have a buddy join you (like maybe your dog or spouse?)
  • Leave your decorations up. Don’t be too quick to haul the tree, garland, and lights back to the attic. Leaving them up until mid-January frees you from the immediate stress of having to take them down, as well as can evoke good feelings of your Christmas get-together.
  • Or not. For some people, getting the house “back to normal” waylays depression. Perhaps you can enlist your family’s help, rather than trying to do it all yourself. Make it fun and reward them afterward.
  • Cut back on unnecessary expenses. Do you really need to eat out that often? Can’t you wait until that movie comes out on DVD? Don’t you have enough clothes and gadgets without shopping for more? Don’t bring yourself down by putting yourself in a financial hole.
  • If you make New Year’s resolutions, be sure they’re realistic. Failing to meet your “goals” can lead to more stress and depression!
  • Find things to look forward to. If you’re creative, you might want to catalog your Christmas memories in a photo album. If the holidays found you smothered by too much family and friends, perhaps you can take 20-30 minutes a day just for yourself — to meditate, to read, to regroup.
  • Give to the less fortunate. Christmas probably brought you some new things. Maybe after-Christmas would be a good time to donate your used things to others.
  • Listen to music. And while you’re at it, dance! And sing! Doesn’t matter if you’re good at it. Nobody needs to know but you.
  • Get professional help. If you find your sadness and lethargy lingering beyond what’s reasonable, you might consider talking to a professional counselor. Depression is treatable, you know!
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20 thoughts on “Beating those Holiday Blues

  1. Great Suggestions. We leave our lights up to lighten up our lives in dreary January. And instead of resolutions I like Chris Brogans (blogger-Guru) suggestion of three guiding words for the year. Still working on mine. Getting out with pups is a sure fire blues buster!

    Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year, Katybeth! Yes, getting out for a walk with my pup does brighten the mood, mine and his! Three guiding words for the year sounds like an excellent substitute for resolutions!

  2. Excellent advice Debbie! I’m one of those who need to take the tree down on New Year’s Day so I can get on with it in the new year. We all have to do what it takes to move onward in a healthy way. Thanks for these practical reminders. Happy New Year!

    • I usually lean toward waiting until Epiphany to take down the decorations, but I can see your point, Kathy. Putting the house back to normal kind of tells everyone that the holidays are over and it’s time to usher in a new year. Hope yours will be especially happy, my friend!

  3. Debbie, these are great suggestions! I’m glad that this Christmas went by like any other day, in the sense that I’m spared having to transition in any way, shape or form. I’m one of the people who leaves the decorations up until mid-January. After all, it seems a waste to store them quickly after all the work it took to haul them out. Reading your post I realized that just today I was pinching my side and thinking, have I gained weight from all the treats and chocolate I’ve been consuming during the holiday? I’ve also been slacking off on the walks with Roxy because I do feel a bit lethargic. I’m going to follow your suggestion and get back on my usual walking schedule. Maybe then Roxy will stop giving me the stink eye! hee hee! :)

    • Dogs are masters of the stink eye, Bella! I’ve been trying to walk my Sheltie but find I slack off when it’s too cold or rainy — no way do I want to get all that fur wet, ha! Glad you liked my suggestions; hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  4. These are all very good suggestions. I am generally a positive, upbeat person, but I, too, feel a letdown after the holidays. But I’m the kind of person who likes to put all my decorations away asap and, believe it or not, that makes me feel better. There’s something soothing about wrapping up each ornament in tissue paper and tucking it away for another year. I take comfort in knowing it’ll be waiting and ready for when the time comes again.

    • ‘Know thyself’ seems to be the best idea of all, Monica! I’m by nature optimistic, so real depression isn’t much of a concern. Still, I think the tree looks so bare without all its presents, and I can see where people would feel sad that the anticipation of the holiday is all over.

  5. I love the excess and debauchery of the holidays, and I love when they’re over and I’m all excited about buckling down on my diet and exercise routine. And I have so much company, it’s fun! So that’s my take.

  6. Very good suggestions. I think we get so excited to be with those we love when it’s over we sort of crash. We took down the tree tonight. We made it an event just like putting it up, and I must admit it was fun taking it down.

    • Kudos to you, Suzicate! Yes, the emptiness of the house can mirror the emptiness of our hearts if we’re not careful. Sounds like you might have initiated a new family tradition (unless this is ‘tradition’ for you, in which case it’s a perfect solution!) Don’t they say, ‘More hands make less work,’ or something to that effect?

  7. I’m ready to take the tree down and pack away the decorations so I can get some order back to my house. The day after Christmas is a bit of a let down because of the build-up of excitement over family visits and anticipation of whether the kids will love their gifts or not.

    Great suggestions. I need to heed your advice and step away from the chocolate :)

    • I don’t know, Janna — chocolate is a cure-all for whatever ails us, don’t you think?! I’m kind of ready to take down the tree, too (it looks forlorn without presents beneath it), but I rather enjoy seeing the inside and outside lights a bit longer!

  8. There really is this kind of emptiness after all the glitter of Christmas is transformed back into normal life. I was starting to feel that a day or two after Christmas and had to let my mind wander off to something else.

    Good advice.

    • Thanks for your thoughts and Welcome! It’s easy to be like a kid and wonder, “Is that all??” Christmas comes and goes so fast — just like any other holiday, I guess, but we expect it to last longer. Distraction seems to be a good way to beat the blues.

  9. Katie says, “YES MOM! More exercise! Take me to the PARK!” Lots of good ideas here. I leave my decorations up for a Lonnnng time, love to see the lights at night.

    • They never get enough, do they, Dawn?! Whether it’s playing ‘ball’ or ‘walking to the park,’ Shelties just love to be included! I’m right there with you in leaving the lights up; they really help to brighten those long winter nights! Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  10. I’m a little bit guilty on all counts. I always feel the let-down after Christmas passes us by. I told a friend that next year, I am going to start decorating, planning and feeling the spirit even before Thanksgiving because I just want it all to last longer. But your ideas will sure help!

    • Glad to be of assistance! I think it’s possibly worse on those living in colder, greyer climates than on those in sunny, warm ones (maybe that’s just my perception, though!). It does seem to pass by in a hurry. Your idea about starting before Thanksgiving just might be the solution!

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