How to avoid post-holiday blues?

Some people love the festive season, the shopping, the gift-wrapping, the decorations…. others dread the arrival of the Christmas holidays, the long dinners, the stress, the confrontation with the family … . There’s a lot of talk about the end-of-year festivities, traditions and resolutions, but not everyone experiences them in the same way. In fact, many people feel depressed after the New Year, as if the excitement of the festivities has given way to the gloom of everyday life. So follow the guide to find out how you can prepare for the arrival of the ‘post-festive blues’, by adopting effective strategies for continuing to feel the magic beyond the festive season.

Why do we get depressed after the festive season?

There are several reasons why we might feel depressed after the festive season. Firstly, the end of the festivities can create a feeling of emptiness, nostalgia and loneliness. We can also feel tired from pulling all-nighters, travelling, shopping, getting ready, and so on. Finally, returning to work can be difficult to accept after a period of relaxation and pleasure.

What are the post-holiday blues?

The post-holiday blues are the sadness we feel once the festivities are over. Basically, it’s a feeling of ’emptiness’ that occurs after a period of rich social interaction with family and friends. It’s a similar phenomenon to that which occurs after a long-awaited event such as a wedding or a trip abroad, for example.

What does this early-year blues look like?

This wave of melancholy can take different forms:

    • A feeling of emptiness, caused by an overloaded work schedule that leaves no time for ‘pleasure’ activities
    • Regrets about what you could have said or not said
    • A strong sense of loneliness, with fewer people to be with and fewer events to attend
    • Grief at the idea that the holidays are over or that they didn’t go as well as you’d hoped
    • Insomnia due to stress or too many negative emotions.

      How can you prepare for the end-of-year blues?

      It’s never too early to prepare! The post-Christmas period can leave many of us feeling depressed. Fortunately, there are many ways to lift your spirits after the festive period, and here are just a few of them:

      Set healthy limits

      Often, the post-holiday blues can be traced back to the experiences of the celebrations themselves. The pressure of attending family gatherings or social events with people you don’t really like can be very frustrating. What’s more, in the age of social networking, the constant sight of happy publications by friends or acquaintances can lead to feelings of melancholy or inadequacy.

      To navigate through these challenges, it’s crucial to learn how to set healthy boundaries, especially if you tend to want to please others to the detriment of your own well-being. Recognising and respecting your own needs is an essential act of self-care.

      If you anticipate that certain situations are going to be stressful, take steps to alleviate them. For example, if the idea of spending a whole week with your parents seems too intense, consider reducing the length of your stay to a weekend. This decision allows you to maintain the family tradition while preserving your personal space and peace of mind.

      It’s also important to feel free to decline certain invitations. You don’t have to attend every event or meeting, especially if it’s going to affect your mental health. Choose events that bring you joy and comfort, and don’t hesitate to say no to those that seem burdensome or pointless.

      Making your mental health a priority is not an act of selfishness, but a necessity for your overall well-being. By setting healthy limits, you give yourself permission to enjoy the festive season in your own way, while avoiding situations that could contribute to post-festive depression.

      This approach, which can take a little practice and courage, is essential for maintaining mental and emotional balance. By taking care of yourself and respecting your own limits, you can not only avoid the post-holiday blues, but also take full advantage of the moments of happiness and conviviality that this period has to offer.

      Express your emotions

      Expressing your emotions is a crucial part of preventing or managing the post-holidayblues. Emotions such as sadness, anxiety or anger, if kept inside, can build up and worsen feelings of unease. So it’s essential to find healthy and constructive ways of releasing them.

      First of all, recognising and accepting your own emotions is an important step. It’s normal to feel a little depressed or anxious after a period of festivities, especially with the sharp contrast between the excitement of the celebrations and the calm that follows. Accepting yourself in these vulnerable moments can be liberating and is the first step towards managing these emotions.

      Talking through your feelings with a trusted friend, family member or colleague can also be extremely beneficial. Sharing your experiences and emotions not only helps to ease them, but also offers the opportunity to receive support, advice and sometimes another point of view that can be enlightening. These conversations can strengthen social bonds and provide a sense of belonging and mutual understanding.

      In some cases, it may be wise to consult a mental health professional. Psychologists, therapists or counsellors are trained to help individuals through difficult times. They can provide personalised strategies for managing negative emotions and offer a safe, non-judgmental space to explore deeper feelings.

      It is also possible to express emotions through creative means. Whether it’s writing, painting, music or any other form of art, these activities can act as a catharsis and allow feelings to come out in a healthy and constructive way.

      Set up a ‘time for yourself’ routine

      It’s not always easy to take time out for yourself during a family holiday. But having a regular activity just for yourself can help you get from one season to the next without a dip in morale. In fact, this consistency can help to overcome the blues. It’s a bit like having a ‘cuddly’ habit: going out for tea with a friend on Tuesday mornings, going for a walk while listening to your favourite music on Wednesday afternoons, practising meditation or giving yourself a beauty mask every Friday evening.

      Plan activities for after the holidays

      The key to overcoming the melancholy that often follows the end-of-year festivities lies in judicious planning and anticipation. After the excitement of the celebrations, the return to the daily routine can seem dull and demotivating. However, by planning stimulating activities for after the festivities in advance, you can create moments of joy and pleasure that you can look forward to, prolonging the festive spirit.

      Start by thinking about activities that bring you happiness and fulfilment. This could be as simple as planning a series of cinema nights with films you love, organising get-togethers with friends, or even signing up for a course or workshop that interests you. The aim is to fill your calendar with positive events that will motivate you and give you something to look forward to.

      It’s also important to set yourself some personal or professional goals for the New Year. These goals can be small resolutions or big projects, but the important thing is that they are meaningful to you and achievable. The act of planning and working towards these goals can provide a sense of direction and purpose, which is particularly helpful in combating post-festive feelings of emptiness or sadness.

      Anticipating potential post-holiday challenges and preparing strategies to deal with them is also a crucial part of planning. Whether it’s preparing healthy meals in advance, establishing a new exercise regime, or even setting aside time for relaxation and meditation, these preparations can go a long way towards maintaining your mental and physical well-being.

      In short, careful planning and anticipation can transform the often-dreaded post-holiday period into one filled with positivity and opportunity. By looking beyond the festivities and creating pleasant moments ahead, you can effectively mitigate the effects of seasonal depression and start the New Year with enthusiasm and optimism.

      Eat a healthy diet

      The end-of-year celebrations are traditionally marked by rich, copious meals, where we often indulge in excess. However, to counter the post-festive blues, you need to pay particular attention to what you eat.

      After a period of festivities, our bodies may feel the need to rebalance. So it’s essential to eat a healthy, balanced diet to promote a positive state of mind and general well-being. Incorporating a variety of fruit and vegetables into your daily diet is an excellent place to start. Rich in vitamins, minerals and fibre, they help to regulate mood and improve overall health.

      Proteins are also a crucial part of a balanced diet. They play an important role in building and repairing the body’s tissues, and can also have a positive influence on mood. Opt for lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, legumes or eggs.

      It is also advisable to include complex carbohydrates in your meals. Unlike simple sugars, complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain cereals, brown rice or wholegrain pasta provide a stable, long-lasting source of energy. They help maintain a constant blood sugar level, preventing mood swings and fatigue.

      It is also important to limit consumption of foods and drinks rich in sugar, saturated fats and alcohol. Although attractive and often associated with festivities, these foods can negatively affect your mood and energy levels.

      Avoid alcohol and drugs

      Alcohol and drugs may seem like a solution to the post-festive blues, but they only make the problem worse. Avoid using alcohol or drugs to help you cope with your emotions.

      Practise gratitude

      Practising gratitude is an excellent way of appreciating what we have, rather than always looking for something new, in the hope of feeling happier. In fact, gratitude helps us to refocus on what we have, rather than on what we lack .

      There are various ways of practising gratitude to avoid becoming depressed. Here is a non-exhaustive list:

      • Meditation
      • Writing (writing a letter of thanks to a friend, filling in your diary)
      • Mentally thanking someone
      • Prayer.

      Find meaning in what you do

      Finding meaning in what you do can help you keep a positive outlook on life. Make a list of your goals, projects, dreams and aspirations. Try to find meaning in what you do and focus on your passions.



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