During the holidays, we’re distracted by the flurry of activities. The stores are inviting with their decorations and music. There are parties, concerts, plays, ball games, TV holiday specials on television, or the latest holiday movie release keeps us entertained. There’s also an understanding that you have a reprieve from work until January.We’re swept along by a river of denial about what life is really like. We come to believe that the holiday spirit is healing and rejuvenating and that all of our problems will melt away. At the very least, we put our problems on hold because we’re just too busy to attend to them.
Then suddenly it’s January. And we’re flooded with anxious feelings and frozen with fear. We’re no better off. The same painful family problems exist. Love interests didn’t magically materialize. The holiday vacation leaves you feeling frazzled and in debt. Work still gets you down.
This is what I call the Post-Holiday Let-Down. And it’s one of the most difficult times of the year for most people, whether or not you actually have something to brood about. In January, you no longer have distractions to keep you from the reality of your life, love or work situation. Just two to three months of dark, cold, dreary days, with no significant holidays to break up the tedium.
Just as with eating well and getting exercise, in order to maintain your psychological health, a regular routine needs to be established. It’s not wrong to enjoy the holiday diversions. But recognize that they aren’t solutions. Be honest with yourself and do the hard work of revamping the lifestyle or personality that lead to your life/love/career dilemmas. Do something each day to resolve these problems and to build a new plan of action for the days after the holidays.
Some likely activities include reading and attending seminars on topics specific to your situation, meditation, increased levels of whole-person exercise such as yoga and tai chi, and joining a support group. In this way you’ll perhaps avoid or at least learn to cope with the Post-Holiday Let-Down.
If your depression is deeper and lasts longer than a Post-Holiday Let-Down, then please consider getting professional help right away. If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my office and schedule an appointment. It’s time you start enjoying life again.