Beating the Post-Holiday Blues
To say that 2020 was a year like no other would be an understatement. But even with the pandemic, lockdown and social distancing, most people still looked forward to the holidays as a welcomed distraction from the stress and fear that COVID-19 caused. While the coronavirus crisis limited travel and large gatherings of family and friends, the holidays still meant a break from “the new normal.” There was also the excitement of bidding farewell to one of the worst years in history and hoping the new year is with positive change.
But now that we’re here in a new year, why can’t we help but feel stressed and emotional?
The Phenomenon of the Post-Holiday Blues
Post-holiday blues are caused by the contrast effect or when two experiences of different intensities immediately follow one another. In the case of post-holiday blues, this refers to the heightened attention focused on the holidays and the lull that follows.
Here’s how you can beat them:
- Know you’re not alone. Are you irritated to be back at work or homeschooling? Do you feel detached and disconnected? Are you bummed to have to return to your usual routine? You’re not alone. Many people have difficulty resuming work after a break. It’s the same as when you’ve gone on vacation, which explains why the post-holiday blues are often referred to as a post-vacation syndrome. The interesting thing is that it affects people regardless of whether they enjoyed the holidays or not.
- Practice self-care. While it may feel like your brain is tricking you, it doesn’t mean your feelings are trivial or invalid. Allow yourself to experience the comedown as you readjust. Snap out of post-holiday depression by focusing on your mental and physical well-being. Get quality rest, exercise regularly and empower your body with a nutritious diet.
- Distract yourself. Returning to life after the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t change things up. That’s one of the perks of welcoming a new year—the opportunity to state your intentions and introduce something new into your life. Make time for new activities that bring you joy and distract you. Having more fun doesn’t always mean adding physical activity to your schedule; it could mean removing something from your regular day that has caused you emotional and mental distress. For example, limiting the time you spend on social media and replacing it with online classes to learn something new.
- Find meaning in your feelings. Experiencing the post-holiday blues may allow you to analyze your life and make positive changes. If you dreaded returning to post-holiday life, ask yourself why. You might discover that there are things in your life that need re-evaluation, such as a toxic work environment or relationship.
- Be patient. Individuals overcome the post-holiday blues differently. There is no specific timeline or rules to follow. However, if you’ve been mentally and emotionally drained to the point that you feel you need help, consider reaching out to a specialist.