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Coping With the Post-Holiday Blues

November and December are filled with all kinds of opportunities for connecting and celebrating with family and loved ones, some of whom we may not have seen in a long time. We spend several weeks eating special foods, shopping, and attending events—usually with friends or family. We’re busier than usual, and we may be experiencing more emotions than usual.

After all of that, January can come as a drastic change. It can be a little too quiet and dull. And if it’s cold and dark where you live, the weather can make you feel worse. It’s no wonder that so many people experience what’s called the post-holiday blues.

“With the intense level of holiday activity behind you, instead of feeling at peace, the emotional result is not delight but depression,” writes Margaret Wehrenberg, Psy.D., in an article for Psychology Today. “You may feel as empty as the refrigerator that was previously filled with a feast of food or the guest room that your out-of-town visitors stayed in.”

Wehrenberg goes on to explain that what we’re experiencing is a sense of loss—of togetherness, activity and fun. And remembering those times is likely to stir up other happy memories—which may only worsen our sense of loss.

As always, leading a healthy lifestyle—like getting proper sleep, eating healthy food, and limiting alcohol—goes a long way toward protecting our mental health. Here are some other ideas for positive and productive ways to help you deal with the post-holiday blues. A Right at Home professional caregiver can help you with these ideas.

Embrace the Spirit of the New Year

In her article, Wehrenberg talks about looking “forward, not backward.” Yes, we all enjoy our happy memories, but too much reminiscing can take our eyes off the here and now. It’s a fresh, new year with lots of possibilities. New Year’s resolutions are popular because they help a lot of people get through this transitional phase by thinking about what they can accomplish. Try making a resolution or making plans for fun in the new year. It might improve your mood and give you a sense of empowerment.

Connect With Nature To Prevent Post-Holiday Blues

If the weather isn’t an obstacle, spend some time outdoors. Even people who live in places like sunny Florida can tend to spend more time inside during the winter months. This deprives us of fresh air and exercise. Staying inside also deprives us of natural light—and in the winter there’s already a shortage of daylight hours. Spend at least 15 or 20 minutes outside every day. You can also connect with nature by spending time near a window—observing nature, even from behind a window, has been proven to reduce stress and improve mood. The winter months can be a great time to pick up the hobby of birdwatching—right from the comfort of your home.

Give Yourself a Project In the New Year

Is there a closet you’ve been meaning to clean out for some time? True, that’s not very exciting—but the idea is to find a project that will require your thought and concentration for at least a little while. Use the same tactic on yourself that parents use with toddlers: distract and redirect. Distract your mind from memories and brooding, and redirect your energy to something more productive. “What you accomplish all depends on how you feel that day and how much time you have,” says neuropsychologist Jennifer Farley in an article for Cincinnati magazine. “Setting healthy expectations without overstretching yourself is key.” You might even consider volunteering for a good cause. That will have the added benefit of connecting you with other people, another important element of fighting the blues.

If You Think You Have Depression

If depression has been diagnosed or if you suspect that what you’re feeling is more than just the seasonal blues, talk with your doctor right away. Also, talk to your doctor if your post-holiday blues last more than a few weeks. Your doctor might also consider the possibility that you have seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression.

How Right at Home Can Help

Right at Home’s trained and insured/bonded caregivers can provide assistance so you can continue to do the activities that bring you joy. Our professional caregivers can help with meal preparation, light housekeeping, transportation and errands, and personal care such as mobility assistance, feeding and hygiene. Our care plans are uniquely tailored to each individual. Use our office locator to find the location closest to you and ask for a FREE in-home consultation for more information.

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Right at Home offers in-home care to seniors and adults with disabilities who want to live independently. Most Right at Home offices are independently owned and operated, and directly employ and supervise all caregiving staff.
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