The holidays are exhausting, especially for someone who already suffers from depression. Afterward, even those without any mental illness can suffer from depression and anxiety. If you’re feeling depleted right now find out how to stop being depressed after the holidays.
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I always look forward to the holiday season. After they end, I am beyond depleted and stretch thin. I basically feel like hibernating. Since that’s not an option when you’re a stay-at-home mom I’ve found other ways to cope.
Growing up, we lost my grandma when I was about 10. After that, we pretty much stopped getting together for the holidays. This meant 1 Christmas, at home, with my immediate family and occasionally some friends. This meant that I didn’t realize how big of a toll the holidays could take on me until I got married.
Suddenly I went from 1 low-key Christmas to 5+ celebrations over the course of a week. Afterward I would spiral so badly that I literally would cry in a corner rocking back and forth. It took a few years before I even recognized the correlation and another 2+ to figure out how to manage it. Now I’m sharing how to stop being depressed after the holidays with you in hopes that you don’t wind up sobbing in a corner too.
Please keep in mind that I am not a medical or psychology expert. I’ve simply spent years dealing with depression and learned some tricks along the way.
Why You Feel Depressed After the Holidays
Most research boils down to the fact that you are over-extended during the holidays. “During the holidays, there is an increase in the number of activities, tasks, and social events that people must manage.” (Forbes) The demands on your time, energy, and finances takes a toll on your well-being. When you finally get a break after the holidays, you’re beyond depleted.
Think of your body like an engine running hot. If you keep it running full-speed you run the risk of blowing the engine. The same thing goes for you. If you keep pushing yourself too hard, for too long, you end up blowing yourself up.
This feeling is further complicated if you spent more than you meant to over the holidays, added a few extra pounds, or don’t get along with family members. Now, in addition to being totally depleted, you are also packing guilt, remorse, and bitterness that you can’t process effectively in your current state. Ugh.
Be Like Oprah with Your No’s
There are so many things that we feel like we have to say, “Yes” to over the holidays that it is exhausting. After the holidays are over, it’s time to be like Oprah with your no’s. You get a no, you get a no, everybody gets a no. For at least the first week, if not longer, don’t feel bad about taking time for yourself. You’ve pushed yourself past the brink in the last month. If you continue at that pace it is going to end with you spiraling down in a hurry.
If a friend wants to catch up over coffee after the holidays, let her know that you’re recharging and ask to schedule it in a few weeks instead. Ask hubs if he’ll handle the kids’ after school activities for a week. Tell your mom you can’t talk to her on the phone for an hour. Whatever it is that you need a break from, speak up.
It took me a lot of years to get to a point where I am open and honest about my needs, especially after the holidays. We shuffle around to so many different gatherings, there are presents to be bought and wrapped, you are talking/visiting with a lot of different people… it definitely takes its toll. I let family and friends know that I’m going to be more difficult to get in touch with for the first week or so after the holidays. Admittedly, a lot of people don’t understand it because they don’t suffer from depression as I do. However, I know my own mental health needs and they can deal with it.
How to Recharge Yourself
There are a myriad of ways to recharge yourself after the holidays. It depends on the individual what works best. I, for instance, really need a total break from family and friends. I push myself so hard to be perfect for everyone and it’s exhausting. After the holidays are over, I need to return home and simply stay there for a few days.
A lot of recharging yourself takes knowing you really well and some trial and error. If you need help with ideas on how to recharge, don’t worry. I have you covered:
I know that we covered this above but it’s that important. Stop feeling obligated, especially after the holidays, to say yes to things you don’t have the energy to do, don’t enjoy, or that stress you out.
Enjoy the sunlight when you can
The winter means less sunlight which can also affect your mood. When the sun is out, try to enjoy it. This could mean going for a walk or simply reading by a bright window. Again, choose what’s best for you.
Try out one of your new gifts
We are so busy as moms during the holidays that chances are you haven’t even tried out your gifts yet (except for that rad disappearing TARDIS mug that held your coffee this morning). Take a day or even a few hours to bust one open and enjoy it.
Get some extra sleep
Another thing that helps after overextending yourself is to get some extra sleep. Try taking a mini-nap during the day or go to sleep when the kids do a couple of nights. I promise, this is the best way to let your body heal and recuperate.
Getting lost in another world is another excellent way to recharge. Read a new book or reread one of your faves. Time spent reading is never wasted.
I finally got the last 2 books in the Autumn series so I have restarted it from the beginning to read it all the way through. If you like zombies and survival you should totally check them out.
As someone who hates exercise that doesn’t seem to serve a purpose (ie: walking just to walk instead of walking around an amusement park all day), I totally get any aversion to this one. However, exercise is a fantastic, healthy way to boost serotonin and leave you feeling better. Force yourself to get up and moving, even if it’s just to dance around the house, and you will feel better for it.
If you find yourself truly spiraling after the holidays and have any thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 . If you hate talking on the phone, you can also text now. Text CONNECT to 741741 in the U.S. or 686868 in Canada.
Guard your time, recharge your mind and body, and start recuperating from the holiday stress with these tips for how to stop being depressed after the holidays. Don’t forget to keep those Oprah No’s in your back pocket. Pull them out for everything that doesn’t help you feel better this time of year. What other ways do you recharge after the holidays? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comments!
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