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No Weenie Whistle: Coping with Post Holiday Blues

Posted by Daniel Feerst on

It's a myth that all depressed or lonely people despise the holiday season or see it as stressful. In fact, many view this time of year as a positive experience. They look forward to participating in the get-togethers with friends and family, shopping for gifts and decorating. There are plenty of distractions and merriment to keep lonely and depressed people busy.

After the holidays depression and let down

In reality, it's after the holidays end that a feeling of let-down or sadness sets in. In fact, some research points to fourth week in January as being the most distressing time of year. Many people believe there are more suicides during the holidays, but that is also a myth. It’s when the celebrations ore over and the decorations are put away that the thoughts of suicide creep in. 

So why is the post-holiday season so difficult for people, especially those who are grieving, lonely or depressed? A variety of factors contribute, including: 

The lack of sunshine. January is dark and cold in many places, and for people sensitive to the lack of sunlight add warmth, feelings of depression can be amplified.

The bills come in. Most people spend more during the holidays, which can add to additional financial pressure.

The scale goes up. It can be difficult for many people struggling to eat healthily during the holidays. That extra five pounds can contribute to negative self-esteem.

Feelings get more intense. Without the distractions, complicated feelings about family members or grief can finally come to the surface. Many people long for the way that their holidays use to be or feel disappointment.

Fatigue sets in. Traveling or lots of social activity can leave many people exhausted. Too little rest can also contribute to depression.

Work is still there. Many people take vacation during the holidays or their workplaces give them time off. Getting into the grind of the regular 9 to 5 workweek can be adjustment that can add stress and irritability.

If you tend to get down after the holidays, there are plenty of good strategies to put into place to keep you from experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts. Taking care of yourself after the first of the year must be a priority. Here are some to try:

If you enjoyed being around family and friends, make sure you continue to do so. Have a dinner party or go to lunch with someone you care about.

Have something on your calendar every week to look forward to. Schedule a massage or go to a premiere of a new movie. Start a new hobby or pick up an old one.

Make sure any New Year’s resolutions you’ve made are realistic. Most people tend to set goals that are impossible to achieve. Instead of resolving to exercise at the gym daily, cut it back to three days a week. Don’t set yourself up for failure and the feelings that go along with it.

Get outdoors. Pick a sunny day and soak up some vitamin D. Since sunlight is limited after the holidays, getting natural light as much as possible is important.

Eat and sleep well. Get back to working toward eating a healthy, balanced diet. Seven to eight hours or sleep every night is critical. Exercise, diet and sleep are important any time of year for people with depression.

If you or a loved one can’t seem to shake the post-holiday blues, it’s time to get help. Your workplace’s Employee Assistance Program can provide counseling for free or at a low cost. Always take thoughts of suicide seriously. Seek immediate medical treatment if you or a loved one is thinking about self-harm.

Enjoy the holidays to the fullest but be prepared for the blues that may follow. Taking steps to keep your outlook bright can help you endure the cold winter months.

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