Beating the Post Holiday Blues

Woman with post holiday blues

The post holiday blues usually show up around January 2.  When the reality of everyday life creeps through your holiday denial with the subtlety of a meteor crashing through your ceiling.

After the joy and revelry of the end-of-year holiday season, our problems are no longer on the back burner.  The magic is gone and suddenly there are bills to be paid, work to return to, kids to get ready for school, household chores, and other nagging issues.

Your post holiday blues may show up like this:

  • A real dread of returning to work
  • Sadness that you just can't quite put your finger on
  • Lethargy that makes you want to stay in bed
  • Melancholy that the holidays are over
  • Thinking that something is wrong with you for feeling sad after the holidays
  • Fear you really overspent this season and that it will take you until next holiday (or after) to get your finances back in order

If you're experiencing any of these, I have some good news, some bad news and some ideas for you.

First, the Good News!

The good news is that post holiday blues are completely normal as long as they don't persist too long, get you down too much, or interfere with your day-to-day functioning. 

People experiencing the blues as described above can usually keep things going so their responsibilities and other obligations are met, despite feeling out of sorts or sad.  If you find yourself paralyzed to do the next right thing (like taking a shower and going to work) or overcome with emotion to the point you can't quite see the way out, you may be experiencing something more clinical in scope. 

If you feel this way for very long (2 weeks or more), I would encourage you to speak with your primary care physician or a therapist for some direction.  But take action sooner rather than later.  The longer it lasts, the more difficult it may be to treat.

Here is the Bad News

Those bills are real.  You may have gotten caught up in the season and overspent.  It may require sacrifices and persistence to dig out of the hole, but you are resourceful and will come out the other side of the debt a better and wiser person. 

If you were working before the holidays, I am pretty sure you have to return to work.  This requires determination and action.  Taking a shower is a good first step toward getting to work, but there are many more steps before you get inside your workplace.  Put one foot in front of the other and do it.  Ultimately, you will be glad you did. 

Your home or apartment may be a wreck after the holidays, and the decorations may still be up.  Focus on getting your environment back to pre-holiday status.  This will help re-establish your regular routine and the post holiday blues will likely pass within a few days.

Take Action to Kick the Post Holiday Blues

Happy woman after the holidays
  • Get back on a schedule.
  • Focus on one moment, and one thing, at a time.  Re-establish your routine step-by-step.
  • Do the next right thing over and over. Literally ask yourself "What is the next right thing I need to do?" and do it.
  • Stay in the light. Well-lit areas are your friends.  They help you stay awake and focused.
  • Take a walk around the office, around the parking lot, or just stand up and stretch once in a while.  Movement does a lot to fend off sadness.
  • Listen to upbeat music or motivational speakers. Filling your head with positive messages makes less room for melancholy.
  • Don't isolate yourself. The blues make you want to be alone, but this only perpetuates sadness.  Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Avoid comparisons with other people.  It is easy to think you are the only one feeling down, but this is rarely true.

Feeling down after the new year is not uncommon, and you are not alone.

But while it is usually not serious, post holiday sadness can become post holiday depression if it lasts longer than a few weeks or is debilitating.  Pay attention to the signs and take my suggested action steps so you can start feeling like yourself again. 

Here is one last tip:  Bookmark this page and schedule on your calendar to read it again around October 15th every year. You just might find it helps prepare you to minimize seasonal denial and reduce the post holiday blues year after year.

Looking for online counseling?  Find out about my method of therapy here.