The excitement of the holidays combined with looking forward to seeing family and friends, decorating the house and preparing favorite foods, all set us up to be let down when the holidays are over.
According to CBS’ “Early Show” contributor and psychologist Jennifer Hartstein, PsyD, it is absolutely normal to feel down after the holidays. “We have all of this stuff going on from Halloween through the end of December. We are going, going, going, going. And often, there’s nothing left after that. We go back to our regular lives and we’re bummed out about it.”
Rather than wallowing in a post-holiday funk, healthcare professionals advise you to take heart and take these steps to get yourself back on track after the holidays:
Make sure you are eating properly. You overindulged during the holidays and lethargy has set in. Perhaps you had too many sweets and too much to drink and you are feeling guilty about giving in to foods you normally avoid. “Think about what you can do to eat right to feel right,” says Hartstein. She suggests drinking more water to rehydrate yourself and eating more grains, lean meats, fish, fruits and vegetables to keep your energy level up.
Get outdoors and get some sun. For some, the shorter days and colder temperatures of the holiday season bring on feelings of depression. Getting outside even on cloudy days will lift your spirits. Hartstein also recommends the use of a sun lamp for just 10 minutes a day, not for a tan, but to replenish the vitamin D in your body.
Get eight hours of sleep. Normal sleep patterns are out the window during the holiday season when parties and time spent with family and friends turn into late nights and early mornings. Now the holidays are over and you are feeling fatigued and depressed. According to R. Robert Auger, MD, a sleep specialist at the Mayo Center for Sleep Medicine in Rochester, Minn., there is a well-established connection between sleep loss and mental and physical health. “Sleep is as important an aspect of health as exercise and nutrition. Sleep is non-negotiable,” Auger told WebMD.
Stay connected with family and friends, and give yourself something to look forward to. Just because visiting family and friends have returned to their homes doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to keep them close. Email, Skype, Facebook and Twitter all provide instant connections to loved ones. Plus, 2015 is a blank page, so fill it with new goals and projects that excite you.
Return to your normal routine. You’ve spent weeks shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, cleaning and entertaining and the word “routine” is long-gone from your vocabulary. Structure, however, is comforting; it allows us to feel in control of daily events. A return to your day-to-day activities means a return to order in your life.
For most of us, the let-down feelings that follow the holidays are short-term. If, however, you experience persistent headaches, mood swings, irritability, anxiety or insomnia, you may be suffering seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or from more pervasive depression and you should seek the advice of your doctor.