POST-HOLIDAY BLUES

Post-Holiday Blues is not a myth. It is the feeling of letdown and anticlimax after the excitement of big celebrations coming from all the hope and energy that we put into them versus all the potential disappointments that we get out. We may feel this even more if we feel we frittered away precious time that we cannot get back.

There is an implied “rule” or norm about having to be happy as we celebrate the holidays. We are supposed to be joyous and optimistic, but this is not always the case for everyone. In fact, we may feel blah about the year that just past or the upcoming new year, especially now with all the potential uncertainties around the pandemic, economy, climate, and so forth.

Nonetheless we put on a happy face when asked “How was your Holiday?” The truth is that so many have had to forgo plans with friends and family this year due to COVID, travel costs and interruptions, weather, or just mental fatigue. Gatherings, especially during these unprecedented times can leave us bewildered, sad, anxious, disappointed, and lonely. Much of this has to do with the unrealistic demands we, or others, place on ourselves. If we buy into these false expectations, it will only deepen feelings of isolation, not measuring up, and even depression.

To cope better with the Post-Holiday Blues, we need to harness our isolation, manage our obligations, and adapt. The strategies below may help:

  • Accept that we are all different and the world is different as time goes by. If we went to a large public celebration one year, we embrace playing scrabble with a friend next year. Rather than over commit, tell yourself this new year is time to do a little less, and self-soothe more.
  • There is nothing like walking off a meal. With holiday overeating it may be a must. Rather than create unwanted pressures, just set little reminders on your phone to breathe slowly, stretch and go out for a walk. When obligations, or the lack thereof, become too much, just walk them off. Remember the more sunlight and fresh air we get, the more we will attract positive thinking and healthy problem solving.
  • It is easy to bemoan the conflict between what we wished we could have done and what we actually did. Rather than fret over missed opportunities, make this new year about trying new things that make life more interesting and special.
  • Throw out your old ideas that everything must be just one particular way. Be flexible and accept that change is normal. You might try a new herbal tea or international cuisine, change up your daily home routine, go to some outdoor venue you’ve never visited before, listen to a different style of music, read a different type of book, take an online course … Change does not always need to involve money, or more time; you can change almost anything, and it can help lift you out of that blah feeling.
  • The real crux of Post-Holiday Blues is the lack of connection. This may sound strange, but to stay connected you must be able to take emotional risks. This means being a little vulnerable but telling those you trust the truth about how you really feel and what you really need. A hug goes a long way, and you might find out that sharing will lead to you feeling unburdened and them to caring more.
  • Too many of us agonize about reaching out to out-of-contact family or friends. They may need some support now too, so why not just try it?
  • Be honest when someone asks you about post-holiday plans or resolutions. Most people won’t judge and are in the same boat. Sharing your goals with a friend can help you both to come to the best solutions and reinforce your desire to stay on track.
  • Don’t have much going on in the new year? think again. Instead of bemoaning the fact that you have nowhere to go, see where you can lend a hand by volunteering. Your community may have ways for you to get involved It is a matter of reaching out and allowing yourself to give what you want to get.
  • Look for the good deeds and overlook the roadblocks. It is so true that holding grudges is not only bad for your health but attracts more stress down the road.

The best protection against Post-Holiday Blues is self-care. Manage all that food consumption with an appropriate get-fit routine, get enough sleep, try new things, reach out to others, and have a positive attitude. We can always get through any stressful event if we just keep up with a healthy lifestyle. Not only is it good for your mind and body, but it is also a great distraction from everyday worries.

REFERENCES:

Everyday Positive Thinking (Louise Hay).

In A Holidaze (Christina Lauren)

Wintering “The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times. (Katherine May)

When Holidays Hurt (Bo Stern)

ABOUT::

Arlene K. Unger, PhD is a seasoned Telehealth Psychologist in Dana Point, California. She can be found on numerous mental health platforms and accepts most insurances. In addition, she has authored 7 books on positive visualization and mindfulness. Arlene was past president of Orange County Psychological Association in 2012 and has continued to serve as a Clinical Affiliate of the Executive Well-Being Committee at Mission Hospital since 2014. Her many other blogs and articles can be found on her website http://www.drarleneunger.com.

Adopting A Restful Mind This Holiday Season

Adopting A Restful Mind This Holiday Season

As soon as the days get shorter and the air crisper our mind sirens seem to set off, especially around bedtime. Thoughts of family obligations, shopping lists, work deadlines, and even the upcoming tax season start to flood in. What happened to the sugar plum fairies, candy canes or candle ceremonies of our youth? So how do we bring holiday cheer into our thoughts while leaving the reindeer stampede outside?

ACCEPT REST

Training your mind to rest takes daily practice; it’s not an automatic skill. We have inadvertently trained ourselves to be super alert during wakeful hours, but that alertness doesn’t suddenly shut off at bedtime. Some of that may relate to not making time in our day to pause and reflect. The key is to leave problem solving to certain times each day and not just when we are settling down.

Sleep Train Your Mind

We need to train our over alert minds to take power naps, or time out, breaks during the day so at night we can easily fall asleep. Tossing and turning at night is typically the result of an overactive mind that can’t settle down. The key here is to make your bedroom your resting place, so when you enter this space, you will trigger restful thoughts. Soft music, dim lights and shutting down any of your blue light activities at least one hour before bedtime can give your mind the rest it deserves.

Worry Free Nights

At least two hours before bedtime—and outside the bedroom–set out to address any unfinished business that you didn’t address during the day. Personally, I like the idea of writing down my concerns for the day in one column and my hopeful solutions besides them. If I can’t come up with a solution, I write down “let it go for now.” Just jotting these concerns and answers down frees my mind to relax, rather than carry my worries into my sleep.

OCCUPY YOUR MIND

Reading about fiction at least 2 hours before bedtime, can give your mind the transition it needs from being overwhelmed by personal problems. Sometimes just trying to imagine the characters dress or customs refocuses and deactivate our minds. Also, imagining relaxing hobbies can be another tool to quiet your brain from overexerting itself before bedtime.

Manage “Poor Sport” Sleeping

One of the worst things you can do to screw up your sleep pattern is filling your mind with the belief that you’ll never get to sleep or stay asleep. Similarly, forcing yourself to sleep is just as bad for your mind and body. Try changing your beliefs and expectations about sleep. If you are beating yourself up, sleep won’t come easy no matter how much you try.

Be Mindful

Future thinking can evoke worry so why don’t you focus on the present when it’s bedtime? I like asking myself “What do I hear, sense, or feel as I am breathing? When something comes to mind, I just notice it and let it go. I try not to get caught up or trapped in my thoughts. Remember being mindful takes practice but you can learn to observe your thoughts even when you are distracted by the “have tos” of the next day.

PRACTICE SOS

Why not wake up from a restful sleep with gratitude and the determination to practice SOS (Slow down, Open Up and Smile). There is nothing like starting the day calm and centered. As you open the curtains, commit to being open to possibilities as well as problem today. While looking at yourself in the mirror tell yourself that it is okay to smile. By repeating this ritual daily, your rested mind will be ready for anything that comes your way.

 

REFERENCES

https://www.sleepfoundation.org

https://www.mayoclinic.org