We don’t talk about it. Nobody warns anybody else about it. Maybe it’s pride or embarrassment or sheer fear of judgment that keeps us from speaking out about it. But it’s there, lurking along the outskirts of our hearts and minds—the post-holiday lull. For those of us who live far from family, this lull hits especially hard. It comes in forms of anxiety and even minor depression. It might as well be called the post-holiday hangover. You go from a high of sorts—a euphoria of tinsel and lights and “all things nice”—family and friends, love and laughter, food and fun, giving and receiving, back to the normal grind…the ordinary, monotonous, day-after-day grind. All of a sudden everything seems to come to a drastic halt. Yes, life goes on, children go back to school, adults go back to work or back to stay-at-home mom life, and time churns on. But for many people, sadness settles in. I would be lying if I said I’ve never felt this way, and I know for a fact that I’m not the only one. So, for the one who feels the weight of the post-holiday hangover, here are some tactics to use to fight against this seasonal cause of anxiety and depression. Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. These pieces of advice are not meant for those who suffer from severe medical depression.
- Talk about it. Sounds simple, right? But when it seems like everyone’s a critic and no one struggles with this same problem, talking about it isn’t always easy. The key here is to find someone that you feel safe to be vulnerable with. If that person isn’t among your friends or family, then talking with a counselor might be the best option. Bottling up these feelings will only serve to escalate the “hangover.”
- Stay busy. Don’t misunderstand me. We are ALL busy already. I don’t mean that you need to add “busy work” on top of your already hectic life. What I really mean is alter your busy schedule to be filled with more meaningful tasks. Have you been dying to give your master bedroom a fresh coat of paint and an updated look so that you and your spouse can have a more relaxing and romantic space to enjoy together? Then, make it a priority, and get it done! Drop the excuses, and shuffle your schedule around. Giving yourself meaningful projects will keep you constantly looking forward to something new and fun. In a way, it tricks your mind into thinking there really isn’t any lull after all!
- Help others. Finding ways to bless others always brings joy and true satisfaction. Whether it be taking a hot meal to a family in need or visiting an elderly shut-in or sending a note of encouragement to a friend who is experiencing her own set of difficult circumstances, simply doing random acts of kindness brings purpose and hope into your own life. Being selfless has its own selfish perks, believe it or not! It’s just as satisfying for you as it is for the person you are helping.
- Seek professional help if necessary. Not all feelings of sadness post-holidays are cured by the methods I’ve mentioned. In some cases, people develop chemical imbalances that require a doctor’s attention. Don’t be ashamed if what you are experiencing goes deeper than just “seasonal depression.” If nothing you do helps, and your relationships and life are heavily affected by this extreme sadness, then seek out professional help right away! Don’t allow prejudices or judgmental people to keep you from getting the help that you need.
- Pray, pray, pray. I cannot express how crucial a deep relationship with God truly is. He is our Rock, our Hope, our Redeemer, our very Life. He knows the depths of our pangs already and cares more than any friend, family member, pastor, or medical professional ever could. Praying and meditating on his Word and promises restore joy and bring healing to any situation. We absolutely cannot leave them out. Our heavenly Father holds us when we weep and carries us when we cannot move ourselves.
Can you feel it? The cloud beginning to lift? There is hope for the one who suffers the heartache of the post-holiday hangover!
Picture by Tika Davis Photography