The holiday season is just about over and sometimes the blues come “out-of-the-blue” to fill the void. Different from depression, the blues:
- Are a normal part of life due to stress and losses (depression isn’t);
- Are temporary, normally lasting less than two weeks (depression lasts at least two weeks, and often longer);
- Generally don’t affect your functioning and activities (depression does); and
- Usually dissipate without professional intervention (depression usually doesn’t without professional help).
Nonetheless, the blues need to be taken seriously since they can turn into depression if you’re not careful.
What are the signs you may have the post-holiday blues? You may be:
- Less happy
- More anxious
- More irritable
- Less sociable
- Less energized
What can contribute to the post-holiday blues?
- As the song goes, “the party’s over,” and you may feel let down after the holiday activities have ended
- Missing family and friends who aren’t nearby anymore or who have died
- Having a smaller group of family and friends than in the past; maybe even having spent the holidays alone
- Unmet expectations about the holidays, family members, and friends
- Family conflicts that may have flared up during the holidays
- Feeling sad about the passing of time and changes that go with that
- Feeling tired from the stress of holiday shopping, get-togethers, and not sleeping as much as usual
- Financial concerns accentuated by holiday spending
- Health and mobility issues affecting your ability to attend such things as social gatherings and religious services
- Less exercise and less healthy eating during the holidays
- A cluttered living space
There may be others, but do these sound familiar?
If so, what are some things you can do to overcome the post-holiday blues?
- Get out of the house if you can; a change of scenery and activity are good for your mood
- Make a schedule to give your day structure with built-in activities
- Re-start activities that may have gotten sidelined by the holidays and try new ones if you like
- Make of list of realistic resolutions for 2017
- Stay in contact with family and friends throughout the year, not just during the holidays
- Remember there’s more to the year than just the span of Thanksgiving to New Years
- Make a budget to get back on track financially if your holiday expenses were higher than expected
- Spring clean your space a few months early
- Do things that make you feel useful and helpful to others
- Treat yourself (in moderation)
- Reminisce about positive memories
- Know your limits
- Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep
If you’re concerned about having the blues or if the symptoms mentioned above persist, you may want to talk with your doctor and/or contact Iona at (202) 895-9448 to learn more about our individual counseling services.
In the meantime, I wish you a happy and healthy 2017!
By Bill Amt, LICSW
Bill Amt, LICSW, is a licensed clinical social worker and is the Mental Health Program Manager at Iona Senior Services. As a psychotherapist he works with older adults and caregivers who are coping with the emotional challenges of aging, and he also leads support groups for caregivers and people diagnosed with early-stage dementia. He has a Master of Social Work degree from The Catholic University of America.