Post-holiday syndrome

“Urgh, I wish holidays could go all year long,” my family and I often remark as we give our goodbye hugs and kisses as I return to my own place. Regardless of any squabbles that may emerge, the feeling of family togetherness is indescribable. For many of us, these are the people we see only once or twice a year — catching up for an entire year is always pleasant. Taking a break from your everyday routine is relaxing, and the fact that you don’t have to go to work is a pleasant change. After the holidays, do you often wonder why it’s so difficult to get back into the groove? Post-holiday blues are a real thing.

After the festivities of the holiday, it’s back to work and daily routine. The news may come as a welcome relief to some. Even with all the goodwill and joy, the holiday season may be a drain on your finances, physical health, and mental well-being. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 64 percent of adults report being affected by Christmas depression, and the stress of the season is the most common reason. Even if you’ve been on a high during the ‘happiest time of the year,’ it might be hard to come down from that euphoria and get back to work.

It’s impossible to generalize about sadness; it’s deeply personal. The things that make one person sad may not have the same effect on another. Stress, exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and over-commercialization are common causes of Holiday melancholy. The inability to spend time with loved ones due to financial hardship. Shopping, parties, family duties, and house guests can put a strain on the body’s ability to handle them all. Individuals who may not perceive themselves to be depressed may experience stress-related symptoms such as headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia. Post-holiday blues may strike others following New Year’s Day. This might occur as a result of the preceding year’s built-up expectations and disappointments, as well as stress and weariness.

Oftentimes, the holiday season is an emotional rollercoaster. After the excitement of the holidays has died down, many people fall into a funk or depressed mood and struggle to carry on with their daily routines. Mood swings that occur after the winter festive season are commonly referred to as “holiday blues,” “holiday depression,” or “post-Christmas blues.” There are numerous reasons why people experience post-holiday depression. It’s possible that the holidays didn’t live up to your expectations, that your plans fell through, or that your expectations were simply not met. Some people experience feelings of shame after overindulging on substances such as alcohol or food. You might also feel bad about yourself if you missed an event that you were supposed to go to. It’s comforting to know that we’re not the only ones experiencing these emotions.

Holiday blues may be the brain’s way of reorganizing itself in the midst of a jarring transition from one experience to another. Furthermore, the second half of December is essentially one long break from your usual routine. Another possible cause of post-holiday depression is the stress of coping with difficult situations and maintaining your composure in the midst of the holiday festivities.. Dr. Judith Orloff, a psychiatrist and author of “Thriving as an Empath,” says that pretending to be happy can be exhausting. Dr. Richard O’Connor, a psychotherapist, believes that we “arm” ourselves with coping mechanisms to handle stress as well as difficult emotions during the holiday season.

During the holidays, we’re more likely to spend time with our loved ones. Spending time with our loved ones can also leave us feeling conflicted. We’ve all experienced times when we’ve felt let down or treated unfairly by members of our family. This can cause sadness and even a sense of mourning in its own right. On the other hand, being with family can bring us great joy, and we may then miss them greatly when they return home. Holidays frequently rekindle memories of those who are no longer with us or with whom we have lost contact. It could be the result of a death, a divorce, or simply time passing. It’s not uncommon to experience a relapse of the mourning process around the time of the holidays.

Many of us return home after being away for a year, and it’s understandable if you’re worn out. While you’re away from home, you’re able to process and slowly regain the energy you expended keeping everything together. Feeling tired and depressed can be a side effect of exhaustion. Assuming you had a few days off from work, you’re now back at it every day. In order to take time off, it is possible to leave behind a mountain of work that can be overwhelming.

It is okay to allow oneself to experience any feeling. The post-holiday blues will not last indefinitely. And meanwhile, be kind to yourself. Compassionate toward yourself—Do not condemn yourself for feeling the way you do; allow yourself the time necessary to regain your equilibrium.

References

Holiday Depression And Stress. (2020, September 27). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/holiday-depression-stress.

Angle, C. (n.d.). Post Holiday Syndrome. Post Holiday Syndrome. https://greatlakespsychiatric.com/resources/monthly-hot-topic/32-post-holiday-syndrome.

Post-Holiday Blues: What It Is And How To Cope. (n.d.). Psych Central. https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-to-manage-post-holiday-depression#what-is-it.

Understanding Post-Holiday Depression And Blues Post-Holiday Depression: Causes And How To Snap Out Of It. (2021, November 8). Psycom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1996. https://www.psycom.net/depression/post-holiday-depression.

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Why are family gatherings such a wellspring of anxiety?

It’s that time of year again when everyone gathers with their loved ones to celebrate the holidays. Family reunions are the type of venue where you catch up, re-energize, laugh your brains off, and just take a breather from your routinely individual insanity. However, it is not an easy task for everyone. Family gatherings are anything but a vacation; they’re more akin to the most difficult exam you’ve ever taken in college. Shhh, this can trigger so much stress, especially if you haven’t studied for the exam in question hence anxiety. 

Despite the fact that these are the individuals with whom we spend the most of our upbringing, they may not know who we are at some point, particularly if there are walls or disagreements lurking somewhere. During family get-gatherings, there are a lot of expectations and memories to tell. We set ourselves up to be disappointed in one another because we have high expectations of one another. And we invent stories to explain why the individuals in our lives either meet or fall short of our expectations. Many (if not all) people develop their own way of looking at the world, values, beliefs, and so on when they are away from home for a period of time, such as while attending college. We create our own cultures that are distinct from that in which we grew up, and these cultures may or may not be in agreement with what our parents know or have taught us. For this reason, we have a tendency to move more distant from them, despite the fact that they remain close to our hearts. For some holidays, though, it is simply impossible to avoid these pounding head scenarios. You only return home for a little period of time each year to check in, and even then, there is a great deal of apprehension upon your arrival. When this dynamic is combined with the customary holiday health pandemonium, the result is a tremendous amount of stress on the body and the mind.

There is always that one person of the family, whether it is Uncle Sam, Auntie Karen, or perhaps that sibling who has always followed the rules or something– who is invariably digging up dirt on someone. Perhaps they are still inquisitive about whatever remained hidden for a while– they are now ready and eager to poke some faces. It could be that adorable little niece or nephew who recalls your age and wonders why you are still single compared to the rest of your family members. Then everyone looks at you with this curious eye, and the room, which had before been filled with noise, is now filled with silence– and you’re thinking, “Pretty face, just shut the fuck up.” You know that favorite family member to whom you confide practically everything– until they become tipsy or intoxicated and begin spilling some of your secrets, sometimes unknowingly. Well, welcome to the world of family gatherings.

Perhaps they are still inquisitive about whatever remained hidden for a while– they are now ready and eager to poke some faces.

Prior to going, personally, I tend to take it easy in order to prepare for anything that may come up. I take a deep breath and mentally situate myself in that zone where I am prepared for anything—more like the armor necessary to maintain my sanity. I’m not going to lie; I’m rather adept at pitching for myself. For instance, if someone said, “Oh, when are we going to meet your partner?” or possibly asked me directly, “When are you getting married?” I’ll go over all of the data about how things have changed in our present generation, including the fact that the average age for getting married is approximately 28/29 (is that correct, by the way?). To keep my sanity, I can make up figures on the spot if necessary. No kidding, on the following question, I tend to continue my numbers higher until someone stops talking about it. 

To be honest, if attending a family gathering will ruin your week or month and temporarily wreck your mental health, it is perfectly acceptable to grant yourself permission to skip family gatherings and celebrations. If you can act as your own advocate in the midst of never-ending disagreements and possible triggers while maintaining your sanity–go ahead, rock it and emerge with your head held high like a giraffe. My view is that they eventually tire of it and cease bothering you and that you eventually tire of it as well, knowing that they will never mentally ruin you or something like that. When you establish your own boundaries and advocate for them, others are forced to respect them. You should be aware that things are more difficult when dealing with family members than they appear on the surface. However, that does not imply that you are unable to thrive through the wilderness. How do you deal with anxiousness that arises during family gatherings?

Always keep in mind that your mental health is vital and that you should look after yourself.