Finally coming up for air from the bottomless pit of buying, bingeing and distractions?
The dopamine-fueled rush and gush is over and January’s cruel days of reckoning have arrived. Say hello to post-party “depression” – a big letdown accompanied by bills, weight gain and disappointments. And then there’s the cold and lack of sunlight to contend with too!
It’s crash time! Studies report that up to 25% of us suffer from low-grade blues to full-blown depression once the holidays wrap up.
Mom of two Stephanie Ekall, 48, is happy to give the ho-ho season the big heave ho: “It’s the same narrative every year. December is a frenzy of buying, wrapping, baking, planning, and hosting and comparisons – and then it’s over in a flash, and you’re left with the cleanup and exhaustion.”
Adding to the post-holiday letdown is the toxicity of social media comparisons of family gatherings, endless parties and expensive holidays. “It’s not just young people posting created moments to make their lives appear exceptionally exciting but adults too, and stupidly you can’t help feeling you come up short,” adds Ekall, who lives in the GTA.
The crash after the holiday high is a very real thing, stresses Dr. Barbara Greenberg, of drbarbaragreenberg.com. “Much of it is due to what we refer to in psychology as ‘the contrast effect.’ In this case, the contrast is between the holiday energy and getting back into the daily grind – getting back into the grind is a major disappointment compared to the energy of the holidays.”
According to Dr. Frank Farley, the level of social engagement and emotional involvement can be stressful and exhausting so now is often a period of re-adjustment. “The holiday season is party time, social time, family time, close encounters time, and that takes its toll,” especially on introverts, but “it may be harder than usual for digital denizens and social media serfs to live in their comfortable web world, which may raise their stress and discomfort.”
Possible stress has been super high: “You said the wrong thing at a party and you lost a friend, or worse, a lover. It’s been a relentless social crucible – parties, gatherings, close relationships, with drinking and you threw up in your boss’ kitchen sink,” says the psychologist and Temple University professor. Lots of us are in the same boat of debt, moodiness, and emotional and physical depletion.
Farley stresses to keep in mind that often its not the situation in front of you that is so bad, its your interpretation of that situation. “So seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty is emphasizing the positive and that interpretation carried into your post-holiday emotions may be very helpful. There’s no value or future in negativity, particularly in situations where problems can generally be corrected, for example interpersonal relationships, overspending, etc.”
Greenberg offers five tips on dealing with the very real post-holiday blues:
- Make plans to see friends and relatives that you enjoy soon. This does not need to wait until the next set of holidays.
- Even though you just got back to your daily grind, whatever that is, make plans to take some time off. We always benefit from having something to look forward to.
- Take something from the holidays and incorporate that into your daily life. That might be using your new coffee machine or even framing a nice photo from the holidays. Add a little cheer from the holidays into your daily life.
- Take good care of yourself. You are probably exhausted from the holidays. Focus on eating well and getting some sleep!
- Be grateful that the stress of the holidays is over. Focus on the future.
OTHER TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND
Dr. Frank Farley recommends keeping these principles in mind when dealing with post-holiday emotions or distresses:
- Change is always possible.
- Your attitude is your destiny. Reframe the recent experiences that are bothering you, perhaps simply as ‘these too will pass.’
- Positivity, optimism, that you can lift ‘the blues’ by focusing on the exciting positive implications of a New Year, not to be burdened by the past. “It’s about options, change, opportunities. Charles Darwin said that being responsive to change is a feature of those species that survive. So, embrace change in this new year and survive and thrive.”
- Use some self-knowledge in motivating your behaviour. “My simple formula for success in life: Success = Self-knowledge + Motivation. Play to your personal strengths and interests and it should help you through the post-holiday period.” For example if you love movies, go see the latest, write a review of it and post it on Facebook. If you’re an experienced marathoner then get running. Enjoy a friendly neighbour, then drop in for a visit.
- The two-word key principle – “I Can.”
RESOLUTIONS THAT FAIL
‘Tis the season for resolutions – problem is most go up in smoke within weeks, according to betway.com.
- Half of smokers who make a resolution to quit will give up trying after a month.
- Just over 20% of new gym goers will throw in the towel within a month.
- One in three people who promise to donate more to charity will stop by February.
- 10% will have broken their New Year’s resolution by the second week of January.
- Despite failure last year, 50% made the same resolution as the previous year.
How does your resolution stack up? Betway.com reports these are the New Year’s resolutions with the fastest quitting rates by February:
- Quit smoking – 48%
- Drink less or give up alcohol – 37%
- Donate to charity – 33%
- Eat more healthily – 30%
- Improve sleep pattern – 26%
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