How to Deal With the Post-Holiday Slump
The first week after New Year’s celebrations is typically hard. Transitioning from month-long gatherings and merry-making to the “real world” is like transitioning from an awesome vacation. However, some people tend to take the post-holiday slump harder.
To get over the blues, we look at the post-holiday slump, why it happens, and what you can do to cope and even enjoy January and beyond.
What is the post-holiday slump?
The post-holiday slump refers to the sadness you feel after a busy season of seeing family and friends.
Common symptoms include:
Emptiness because of a suddenly empty social calendar
Sadness that the holidays ended
There aren’t many studies about emotions after the holidays, but mental health professionals agree it’s common. The post-holiday slump also appears after highly anticipated events like weddings and vacations.
Why does the post-holiday slump occur?
The most striking factors in developing the post-holiday slump are loneliness and emptiness. For some people, experiencing the stress of loneliness can trigger genes for mental illness, particularly in those with a personal or family history.
For people who enjoy spending time with family and friends, the holidays mean a boost of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. When the season ends, so does that boost, leaving many people lonely and empty in January.
Besides loneliness, binge drinking is another possible trigger. Binge drinking has been linked to mental health issues and reduced quality of life.
The American Addiction Centers (AAC) surveyed 1,000 Americans on holiday drinking. They found that 47% of men and 40% of women indulged in binge drinking on New Year’s Eve, more than any other holiday. The survey defined binge drinking as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in two hours.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines binge drinking as five or more drinks on a single occasion for men and four or more drinks on a single occasion for women.
How to get out of that slump
Don’t force yourself to trudge on if you’ve been feeling the post-holiday slump. Instead, try these tips to get your body and mind in a healthy, steady state.
Establish a self-care routine
You may have let go of your self-care routine during the holidays, particularly in the days leading up to the New Year. So, it’s more important than ever to return to your self-care pillars. Get the basics down, such as getting good quality sleep, staying hydrated, getting at least 10 minutes of sunlight, and doing some light workouts. A healthy body is essential to achieving a healthy mind.
Schedule something fun
While holiday parties and gatherings may have gotten too stressful, only some look forward to a relatively empty social calendar in January. To soften the transition from holiday daze to the “real world,” continue to make plans with those whose company you’d like to keep. Schedule lunch or coffee dates with a friend or two.
Acknowledge your feelings
Sometimes these feelings serve as information for what you value in your life. So, don’t just repress them. Perhaps you’re feeling lonely because you realized you needed to form deeper relationships. Don’t reserve getting in touch with friends and family for the holidays.
If you’re feeling empty, maybe it’s time to do something that will add more meaning and purpose to your life. Volunteer at your favorite charity or start a new hobby, like yoga at a studio. Use the post-holiday slump to find what adds joy to your life.
Get professional support
The bottom line
Feeling sad after the holidays is a normal response to adjusting to life after a few months of parties and gatherings. However, they occur for different reasons. Get in touch with yourself and determine what you need. It could be setting up regular dates with treasured family and friends throughout the year, or you might need a self-care reset. But if things feel too overwhelming for you, please don’t hesitate to get support from a mental health professional.