I’ve got a Holiday Hangover.
It’s not what you think.
It’s the crappy feeling experienced when the holidays are over and it’s time to return to reality.
Visiting family members head home and the house is quieter.
The decorations are being slowly put away and the Christmas tree is laid to rest at the corner of the driveway.
The assorted cheeses, gingerbread cookies, and egg nog are catching up with your waist.
I consider the holidays to start in October during pumpkin patch and Halloween season through the changing of leaves (or, if you live in Florida, dead grass) and Thanksgiving, through Christmas tree decorating, Santa visiting, Elf-on-the-Shelf bribery, holiday parties, the Big Day Itself, through fireworks and New Years Day.
The holidays snuck up on me this year and, truth be told, I was often too busy and stressed out to appreciate them as they were happening.
This year, December was an especially crazy month. I resigned from the firm where I’d been for the last six years in exchange for a position at another firm that would provide me with more flexibility to spend time with my family. A risk-averse creature of habit, this move was emotionally taxing, although I know I ultimately said My Best Yes. The days preceding my last day at work involved wrapping up cases and getting into a minor car accident with an Uber driver for which I’m still dealing with the headache of getting my repairs reimbursed.
My parents and in-laws visited for Christmas, and my kids were thrilled when Santa delivered on his promise for a bicycle and a baby doll. Two days later, my sister and brother-in-law came in from D.C. We shopped, ate at good restaurants, went to a local theme park, and made a lot of special memories. My mother helped organize my house, and my sister returned home with a giant suitcase full of my girls’ old clothes, which was bittersweet.
There were many times I looked around my living room and mentally acknowledged that all the people I love the most in this world were sitting in it.
And now I have to return to work tomorrow, sick from a Holiday Hangover.
I realize that for many, the holidays are unpleasant. Reminders of painful childhoods or lost loved ones. My friends who work in the mental health profession say the holidays are their busiest time of the year, requiring them to work evenings and weekends to accommodate their fragile clients.
Regardless of your reason behind the post-holiday blues, you’re not alone. Studies show that 25% of Americans suffer from low-grade to full-blown depression after the holidays.
Here’s what I do to take the edge off my anxiety when I’m feeling crappy.
Go for a Walk Alone. I thrive from alone time and enjoy going for walks. Spotify has a playlist called “The Most Beautiful Songs in the World” under the “Mood” playlist genre. The songs provide for good meditation and each song really is more beautiful than the last. I listen to this playlist on my walks.
Watch Relaxing, Stress-Free TV Shows. Get ready to laugh. My husband and I recently came across Rick Steves’ travel shows on public television. They are addicting. It’s hard to feel anxious and stressed watching some soft-spoken dude walk across the English countryside petting sheep and drinking beer.
Stay off Social Media. I think Facebook is making me dumb
er. My brain isn’t programmed to keep up with all the information surrounding who’s selling what, which kids just had birthdays, who got breast implants from Santa (yes… there was one of those!), and continued political posts regarding Trump’s presidential win. As much as I love catching up with old friends and feeling “in the loop,” social media can also trigger my own insecurities and leave me feeling down. If it weren’t for the fact that Facebook accounts for most of my blog’s traffic, I would deactivate my account completely. Instead, in the new year, I’ve resolved to spend two minutes per day scrolling the ole newsfeed. Two.
Spread Love. I enjoy sending texts and emails to my friends and family members telling them I love them or how and why they are special to me. Probably comes across as weird and random at the time, but when you give love, you get love.
Take Your Vitamins. I take Vitamin C, fish oil, and multivitamins as part of my regular regimen. I also recently purchased an anti-stress probiotic, which I’ll let you know if it works.
Be Mindful of What You’re Putting in Your Body. I feel better when I eat better, but this isn’t always easy or convenient. I feel more anxious when I drink caffeine. While I enjoy wine, unless I can stick to just one glass (nearly impossible!), it often disrupts my sleep and makes me feel depressed the next day. I try to avoid these things. Not worth the strife.
Put away the Smart Phones at Night. There is a direct correlation between not getting enough sleep and feeling depressed. In the evenings, I used to keep my iPhone on my nightstand, mainly because I relied on the alarm to wake me up in the morning. I was at the point where, once my insomnia kicked in, I’d pick up the phone and find myself scrolling through social media and emails, making it even more difficult to return to sleep. I purchased an inexpensive old-school alarm clock from Amazon and am keeping my phone downstairs in the evenings. Adios.
Read a Book Before Bed. This is a nice escape from the reality of a crappy mood and helps break the cell-phone-scrolling-habit. I’m currently alternating between Hillbilly Elegy and The Best Yes (see above.)
Wishing everyone for a happy and mentally healthy 2017.