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Don’t we all love the holiday season? After all, it brings with it so much joy, cheer, and happiness. But as soon as it nears its end or ends, our spirits get dampened and we start to feel so blah. Is it because we hate to get back to work, or is there something else that kills the joy? All we can say is that the post holiday blues are real!
To understand this better, we got in touch with Akanksha Singh Chandele, counseling psychologist and Director – I Am Wellbeing (Nairatmya foundation).
Here’s what she tells HealthShots. “The holiday season, especially the time around Christmas and New Year, is filled with very high levels of activity for a lot of people. This is a time defined by new promises, endless resolutions, and the anticipations of warm and cheery evenings with one’s family and friends. People wait for this season and prepare for it in full swing; they go on holidays, plan parties, meet friends and take a break from their routine lives that might involve a lot of stress and work.”
Therefore, when this season comes to an end when our friends and family go back to their regular lives, it might leave us feeling empty and alone, thereby acting as a trigger for past experiences of these emotions to come to the fore. These might feel something like post-holiday blues, adds Chendele.
It isn’t that this is the first time we are experiencing post-holiday blues, but they are even more difficult to deal with, given that we have been living in a pandemic-ridden world for over two years now.
“The pandemic that has shut us inside our four-walled houses, cutting us off from the safety and care of our loved ones, intensifies the feelings of these post-holiday blues as it can be scary and anxiety-provoking for people to go back to what they have understood to be ‘the new normal’, to their isolated spaces and lonely minds,” adds Chandele.
Another reason for people experiencing a sudden low after the holiday high also lies in the society’s expectations of new promises of efficiency and productivity; in promises of “a new year, a new me”.
“To abide by these social norms and in the spirit and rhythm of the present moment, a lot of times we end up setting very huge goals for ourselves which if not impossible might be very hard to achieve. As the excitement of the season dials down, people might realize that they’re unable to keep up with their own expectations, thus bringing about some rather unsettling feelings; as if they’ve failed themselves or the people around them. These pressures can get heavy to get through,” she explains.
Several times, holidays also tend to impose on people a social obligation to go out and meet friends and family, even when they might not be feeling up for it. The reasons for this could range from not having the financial capacity to not having the mental or emotional capacity for it, especially in the age of the pandemic.
“However, turning down friends and family brings in feelings of guilt, thus forcing people to meet up to their expectations. This may in turn make them feel all the more drained or anxious once the holiday season comes to an end,” says Chandele.
YES, says Chandele. Here are some tips she recommends to deal with post-holiday blues:
Talking to someone who makes us feel calm and safe is a good idea. At a time, especially like the present, when Covid-19 has completely taken over our lives and has intensified feelings of isolation and loneliness, it might be helpful to try and stay connected with people who make us feel comforted and loved.
Setting and communicating boundaries is equally important. It might be helpful to establish social as well as financial boundaries for ourselves, and communicate these openly to our friends and family, thus keeping their expectations at par with our capacity to offer what we can. It is significant here to remind ourselves that we need healthy boundaries for the sake of our own mental health.
Doing some physical activity helps in releasing any tension that we might be holding in our bodies. This could include dancing, yoga, or just simply taking a walk outdoors.
Practicing deep breathing for even 5-10 minutes can prove to be really helpful, as it allows for the person to anchor themselves in the present moment, thus ridding their minds of any unwarranted thoughts.
Instead of the heavy new year resolutions, it might be a good idea to set small targets for ourselves. For example, instead of aiming to read an entire novel, one could rather aim to read just one page a day. This strategy helps break down a daunting task into easier and achievable steps.
Cleaning and organizing are few of the most effective ways to unwind from overwhelming thoughts and feelings. The physical act of de-cluttering distracts people from certain anxiety inducing situations whole simultaneously giving them control over their surroundings.