6 Ways to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues

woman cleaning kitchen

Your fridge is filled with week-old leftovers and the cookie bin is still laden with crumbs, reminding you of your guilt-ridden nightly visits. As you look at your overstuffed recycling bin, you sigh heavily. All the excitement is over and the demands of work are starting to pile up again.

But what if you looked at things a little differently? The new year is upon you. It’s a blank canvas to illustrate your life with infinite possibilities ahead. Here are six things you can do to help overcome the post-holiday blues.

1. Take a Junk Food Fast

It seems so logical and perhaps the reason why so many people choose to diet in the new year. Most of the foods people enjoy during the long holiday season include copious amounts of fat and sugar, and if you add alcohol to the mix, you’re in for major bodily changes.

Foods high in sugar rapidly raise your levels of insulin and then promptly lower them leaving you with a crash-and-burn effect. Not to mention that once your body is accustomed to regularly consuming sugar, it craves it more. The same goes for alcohol, which is also a depressant and will leave you feeling down. To hit the reset button, opt out of high-fat foods, processed foods, sugary snacks, and alcohol for the month of January and see how you feel. Chances are your mood will level off and things that bothered you won’t seem so bad.

2. De-Clutter and Give Things to Charity

Speaking of a mess, have you ever pulled out all of your holiday decorations to realize that you don’t use half of them or that some are broken and simply put back into the basement year after year? Cleaning and de-cluttering can be therapeutic. You can create space for beauty and amazing possibilities. You can bless others by giving away things you no longer need.

If cleaning after all the hard work of entertaining and hosting throughout the holidays makes you stressed, put on some meditation music or soothing nature sounds, take one room at a time, set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes, and focus on one area. Have three bags with you, one for trash, one for recycling, and one for charity. When you’ve finished, you can clear your space with white sage, also referred to as a smudge stick. This Native American tradition helps to clear any negative energy from an object or place, and it’s a great way to finish your de-cluttering and cleaning.

3. Get Financial Help and Plan for the Upcoming Year

Many people experience post-holiday blues when they awaken to the credit card bills in the mailbox and realize they’ve overspent. Instead of burying them underneath the pile (you know the one I’m talking about), make a plan for the upcoming year’s holiday spending. Many banks offer a holiday savings account and the first of the year is a great time to start saving. Take a look at how much you spent over the holidays, take the total amount, and divide it by 12. You now know how much you’ll need to save each month for gift giving and holiday festivities.

If monthly budgeting is what got you into year-end trouble, there are many free apps that will help you track your spending and help budget your money. Mint is one app and another free app is Penny.

4. Stick with a Routine

This simple yet priceless tool can help your physical and mental health get back to normal. During the holidays, everything gets off kilter. Start by setting a wake-up time and a time to go to bed every single day and stick to it. Ayurveda recommends getting up at around 6 a.m. and getting to bed between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Make sure you’re going to sleep in total darkness. Set your electronic devices to off or sleep mode before 10 p.m. so that your sleep is not interrupted.

Add in a schedule for your meals. Make sure you finish your evening meal about three hours before bedtime and stay away from caffeine after 4 p.m. If you really want to boost your mood, add in 15-minute walks after each meal.

5. Schedule in Friend Time

After all the parties, visits, and events, your calendar can look a bit empty in January, which in and of itself can make you feel sad. Now is the opportunity to schedule in-person friend time. Remember that friend who you only see every six months and each time you say to her/him, “We’ve got to do this more often.” That’s the friend you need to call.

If you feel that you crammed in all of your friend time during the holidays and that it’s too soon to schedule something again, look for ways to connect with others in person. You can start a Meetup group and find others with similar interests. You can find a workout buddy. Real connections work wonders to improve your mood.

6. Remember What You Loved About the Holidays

Grab a hot tea or hot chocolate, sit by the fireplace, and reflect on what you loved about this holiday season.

  • What was the best conversation you had?
  • What was the most thoughtful gift you received?
  • What was the funniest thing that happened?
  • What was one disaster that turned into a blessing or a great memory?

Focusing on the positive can bring you to a place of gratitude about the recent past and give you things to look forward to for the future.

Or better yet, do something that has been lost in the realm of digital photos. Create a scrapbook or album highlighting photos and souvenirs from the holiday season. It will be a treasure you can share with your children and grandchildren for years to come.

Finally, remember the adage, “This too shall pass.” Just as the frenzy of the holiday season is over, the lull in activity and your lowered energy will give way to something new and exciting. Be on the lookout for it and it will come soon.

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