You've been waiting all month - or maybe even all year - for this moment. And now that the gifts have been unwrapped, the songs have been sung, and the cookies have been baked and eaten, the time has come to pack up the holiday mementos and move on.
But for some, moving on is simply not as easy as it sounds. The holiday season is an emotional roller coaster and stepping off at the and can leave you with a case of psychological whiplash. Whether it's caused by feelings of guilt from overindulgence, unmet expectations, or a return to loneliness, depression after the holidays is a common condition. So common, in fact, that there is even a name for it - the 'post-holiday blues.'
Feelings of sadness, guilt, and anger can kick off genuine symptoms of depression ranging from mild unhappiness to more troublesome symptoms such as insomnia, irritability, inability to eat or overeating, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and anxiety. But you don't have to let the holiday blues get you down. Here's how to survive the blues and get back on track for the new year.
Expect some letdown. One day you are laughing with friends, eating your mom's famous cheesecake, and snuggling with your kiddos in front of the fireplace; the next day you are back to work in your boring old cubicle. It's normal to feel a little bummed that the holidays are over, but you don't have to let those feelings consume you. That's why you need to...
Make plans. Map out your training for a spring 5K, book a mid-winter weekend away, or call a friend that you didn't get to see over the holidays and schedule a lunch date. Give yourself something to look forward to so that you feel better about leaving the holidays behind.
Make healthy choices. Even if you feel like you are just going through the motions, make a conscious effort to eat well and get a little exercise during this period. It will do your body and your mind a world of good and keep you from spiraling downward.
Go public. After all of the socializing of the holidays, it's common to want to hideout when you feel the holiday blues approaching. But staying connected with family and friends will help you move on from the holidays and once again enjoy your day-to-day life.
Seek help. If the holiday blues have really got you down, do not be afraid to seek help, either from your inner circle of loved ones or from a health care professional. While it may have a cutesy name, the post-holiday blues is a very real condition, and you don't have to go through it alone. Call your mom, your best friend, or your doctor and let them know how you are feeling. Sometimes, just knowing someone is there to listen can go a long way to improving your mood.
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1. Have Gratitude
"It all starts with counting our blessings. If you are not grateful for the good things in your life, you will never be satisfied. Take inventory of the good around you. But don't neglect what's not great, either: You also need to be grateful for the hardships, the obstacles, the failures. Why? Because these are the points of wisdom in your life. They give you strength, they teach you how to persevere, and they form your resilience. Being thankful for every step makes life’s hardships surmountable. All of this is the foundation of optimism; being psyched about the good and the bad, and knowing that they all point to a bright future."
2. Share Your Stories
"I believe we all have the capacity to live optimistically just by sharing our life’s adventures, our successes and even our failures. Just knowing others have been in the same boat and have persevered is comforting. It spreads a message of hope, and hope is the main ingredient in optimism. When we share our stories we are giving others the tools they need to build, evolve, and persevere. In essence, mankind is always 'paying it forward.'”
"This is easier said than done but you need to forgive those that have affected your ability to find the silver linings. I believe that the easiest way to forgive and move on is to reflect on the fact that the past is the past. Just look at it this way; the person that you are having a hard time forgiving probably wishes that he or she could erase the past as well. In summary, make peace with your past so that it won't spoil the present. Once you accomplish this, you will close those chapters and live a more positive and happy life."
4. Be A Better Listener
"When you listen you open up your ability to take in more knowledge versus blocking the world with your words or your distracting thoughts. You are also demonstrating confidence and respect for others. Knowledge and confidence is proof that you are secure and positive with yourself thus radiating positive energy."
5. Turn Envy And Jealousy Into Energy
"When we envy others we are only hurting ourselves. The universe does not owe you because someone else is better off than you. Channel that energy into building your personal and professional brand. Consider other people’s success the catalyst to help you achieve."
6. Smile More, Frown Less
"When we smile we are creating a happy, stimulating environment around us that draws others in. Frowning, on the other hand, shuts people out and has the opposite effect. Happiness, even in brief doses, releases Serotonin (the happy hormone). It makes the toughest days surmountable."
7. Exercise, Eat A Healthy Diet And Take In Vitamin D
"This may be common advice, but we all need some form of exercise and sunlight every day even -- if it’s only for 15 minutes. If you can’t get natural sunlight, ask your doctor about Vitamin D supplements and/or light therapy. If you can’t get exercise during your busy schedule, use the staircase instead of the elevator or park in the furthest parking spot. Whatever it takes, keep yourself in healthy motion as often as you can. Consider balanced meals and don’t push away those fruits and vegetables. If you feel hunger throughout the day, consider almonds and walnuts if you are not allergic. If you are predisposed to allergies, consider frequent smaller meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones. The energy we get from exercise, a healthy diet, and light exposure gives us focus, clarity and a naturally positive demeanor."
8. Be A Positive Forward Thinker
"Positive forward thinking is the ability to find the silver lining in every cloud, apply it to today or yesterday and be hopeful that tomorrow will be better. Imagine surgery; you think the worse and can’t wait for it to be over. Take all that and start visualizing what the point of the surgery is and what the results of the procedure will deliver. The goal is good, it’s only today that may seem rough. Or picture a student studying for a grueling exam. It may seem like the end of the world trying to prepare and memorize all this information. But take that energy and picture what your degree can do for your future. Like anything else, working hard will always deliver results. Life is not a lottery. It’s what you make of it."
9. Stop Blaming Others
"It is so easy to blame others for our position in life. People blame the economy, politicians, bosses, and all types of third parties for their problems. Once you truly accept that you control who you are, you will find that optimism and success come naturally. Remember, opportunity is usually found in the valleys, not at the peaks."
10. Understand That The Past Is Not A Blueprint For The Future
"Just because you've experienced adversity in your life does not mean that what starts badly will end badly. Do not make bad experiences a self-fulfilling prophecy of what lies ahead. On the contrary, know that those milestones are behind you and the road to the future is clear."