January is here, and many people are getting back to business as usual. For some, they are glad the holidays are over. Family time can be comforting and relaxing for some, but can also negatively affect a person’s mental and emotional health.

The post-holiday blues can hit you hard, especially for those who struggle with a mental health condition. Learn about the post-holiday blues, what signs to look for, and how mental health treatment programs in Orange County can help you.

What Are Post-Holiday Blues?

Post-holiday blues refers to the short-lived anxiety and sadness that affects people after the holidays. It has many of the same symptoms as a mood or anxiety disorder, such as irritability, low energy, feeling anxious, and trouble concentrating.

Nearly nine in ten U.S. adults say the lack of money, being away from loved ones, and anticipating family drama increases their stress levels during the holidays. Those with cheerful holidays can experience a “crash” when the excitement ends.

Unlike clinical depression, the post-holiday blues is short-lived. Depression receives a lot of attention during the holidays. This time reminds us of how difficult the holidays are for some people and how important it is to seek anxiety and depression treatment.

Why Do Some People Feel Depressed After the Holidays?

anxiety after holidayFor many people, the holidays are the only time of the year that completely interrupts their life. They get a few days off from work, which is welcomed even if their holidays aren’t merry and bright. The thought of returning to work and everyday life can cause post-holiday blues.

Some reasons people feel depressed after the holidays may include

  • Emotional Exhaustion: The holiday season often involves intense emotional experiences, including joy, excitement, and stress. After the holidays, individuals may feel emotionally drained, contributing to fatigue and low mood.
  • Reality vs. Expectations: Unrealistic expectations for the holidays can lead to disappointment. If the actual experiences don’t match the idealized visions, individuals may feel let down and experience a sense of sadness.
  • Loneliness and Isolation: The emphasis on togetherness during the holidays can magnify feelings of loneliness for those who don’t have close family or social connections. After the festivities, the return to a more solitary routine can intensify these feelings.
  • Financial Strain: Overspending during the holidays or financial stress related to gift-giving and celebrations can contribute to post-holiday depression. Concerns about budgeting and managing debt may lead to increased anxiety.
  • End of Festive Atmosphere: The festive holiday decorations, music, and overall joyfulness create a unique atmosphere. When these elements disappear, individuals may feel a sense of loss and a return to mundane surroundings.
  • Lack of Structure: The holidays often disrupt regular routines. When individuals return to work or school after a period of relaxation, the abrupt shift can be challenging, leading to disorientation and dissatisfaction.
  • Weather and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): In regions with colder, darker winters, the change in weather and reduced exposure to sunlight can impact mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression linked to seasonal changes, often peaking in the winter months.
  • Social Comparison: Comparing one’s holiday experiences with those portrayed on social media or shared by others can contribute to feelings of inadequacy or dissatisfaction. Unrealistic portrayals of perfect celebrations may heighten the sense of post-holiday letdown.
  • Return to Responsibilities: Returning to work, household chores, and other responsibilities after a break can be overwhelming. The contrast between the holiday leisure and everyday tasks can create a sense of dread and sadness.
  • Reflection on Life: The end of the year often prompts reflection on life goals, achievements, and personal growth. If individuals feel unfulfilled or dissatisfied with their current circumstances, it can contribute to a depressive mindset.

The post-holiday blues are a common and often temporary issue. However, seeking professional help is vital if it is persistent or becomes severe. Consider looking into individual therapy for mental health in Orange County.

What Are the Signs of Post-Holiday Blues?

How do you know if you or a loved one is struggling with post-holiday blues? While signs vary from person to person, the signs will likely be short-lived. It is normal if you feel any of the following signs after the rush of the holidays. Some symptoms of post-holiday blues may include

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Worrying about money
  • Inability to sleep

It is also common with post-holiday blues to excessively think about issues and things that happened over the holidays. These thoughts often exacerbate symptoms of anxiety, sadness, and stress.

How Long Does Post-Holiday Depression Last?

How long post-holiday depression lasts varies from one person to the next. But, if it has been a few weeks and you are still struggling with post-holiday blues, you may need to seek help from a mental health professional. If you are interested in mental health treatment, our outpatient mental health program may be a great place to start.

Post-Holiday Depression Statistics

According to the American Psychological Association:

  • Almost 49% of U.S. adults say their stress level is moderate during the holidays.
  • 41% said their stress level increases during the holidays.
  • 43% said that the stress of the holidays interferes with their enjoyment.
  • 36% said the holidays feel like a competition.
  • 58% say that overspending or not having enough money increases stress levels.
  • 38% say missing loved ones raises their stress levels.

The Connection Between Post-Holiday Blues and Mental Health

Post-holiday blues are a common and typically mild form of emotional distress that many people experience after the holiday season. While not necessarily a clinical mental health disorder on its own, the connection between post-holiday blues and mental health lies in the potential impact on emotional well-being.

Post-holiday blues can lead to various emotions, including sadness, fatigue, and a general sense of letdown. While these feelings are usually temporary, they can affect overall emotional well-being.

For individuals already susceptible to depression or those with a history of mental health issues, post-holiday blues might increase the risk of depressive symptoms. The contrast between the holiday season’s joy and the return to routine can be challenging for some individuals.

Stress during the holidays, often related to travel, social obligations, and financial expenses, can contribute to post-holiday blues. Persistent stressors can be linked to heightened anxiety levels, impacting mental health. If symptoms persist, our anxiety treatment in Orange County can help reduce stress and anxiety after the holidays.

Post-holiday blues may coincide with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to seasonal changes. Reduced sunlight during winter can impact mood and contribute to sadness or lethargy.

Loneliness and social isolation, which may be heightened after the holidays, can negatively impact mental health. Feelings of loneliness can exacerbate existing mental health issues or contribute to a sense of disconnection.

Coping mechanisms during the holidays, including socializing, engaging in festive activities, or taking time off, may change after the season ends. A lack of effective coping strategies can impact mental health.

The end of the year often prompts reflection on life goals and achievements. If individuals feel dissatisfied with their progress or unfulfilled, it can contribute to a sense of disappointment and impact mental well-being.

Individuals with resilience and effective coping skills may navigate post-holiday blues more successfully. However, those with limited coping mechanisms may find it more challenging to manage their emotional health and well-being during this period.

Tips to Overcome Post-Holiday Blues

depressed after holidayOvercoming post-holiday blues involves implementing strategies to ease the transition from the holiday season to regular routines. Taking care of yourself is crucial in overcoming post-holiday blues. Incorporating the following can be beneficial in many aspects beyond post-holiday blues.

  • Ease back into your routine gradually rather than making an abrupt shift. This can help reduce the shock of returning to work or daily responsibilities.
  • Focus on the positive and enjoyable moments from the holidays. Reflecting on the good times can help shift your perspective and create a more positive mindset.
  • Stay connected with friends and family. Plan casual get-togethers or activities to maintain a sense of social connection, reducing feelings of loneliness.
  • Establish new traditions or activities to look forward to. This could involve weekly movie nights, trying new hobbies, or planning regular outings with friends.
  • Prioritize self-care activities, such as getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and engaging in mental health therapy.
  • Practice mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing exercises to stay present and reduce stress. Keep a gratitude journal to focus on positive aspects of your life.
  • Incorporate physical activity into your routine. Exercise has been shown to have positive effects on mood and can help combat feelings of fatigue.
  • Avoid excessive comparison with others on social media. Remember that social media often portrays curated and idealized versions of people’s lives.
  • Spend time outdoors and take advantage of natural light. Exposure to sunlight can positively impact mood and energy levels.

Overcoming post-holiday blues is gradual, and giving yourself time to adjust is okay. Implementing these strategies can contribute to a smoother transition and help you maintain a positive outlook as you return to your routine.

Adler Health Can Help You Overcome Post-Holiday Blues

Post-holiday blues won’t last forever, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and give yourself time to process them. If you find the symptoms persist, seek professional help at our treatment center in California.

Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of our treatment options. We want to help you take the first steps toward healthy living.