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Post-Holiday Depression: Do You Feel Depressed After the Holidays?

After the holidays, do you ever feel not like your self or even depressed? Here are some ideas to help you get back to feeling like your normal self.

For many parents, the holiday season can be an overwhelming experience. At any point throughout the holiday experience, post-holiday depression can start to creep in. We try to ignore that nagging feeling that there should be more peace and enjoyment during all the party planning, shopping and traveling, but there is so little time to stop and relax. There’s still all that food to prepare! Should it be ham or turkey this year? Did Aunt Sarah have a nut allergy or was it gluten sensitivity?

For many, the holiday craziness can feel a bit like being trapped in a snow globe, an uncontrollable flurry of activity swirling around us. But that storm does settle, the calendar rolls into another year, and we look back at the holidays wondering if all the effort and expense were really worth the supposedly “most wonderful time of the year.”

Most of all, we just feel . . . blah.

The majority of people who get the after-holiday “blahs” are experiencing a very normal reaction to the frenzied pace of the previous month. Like a child having too much sugar, our tendency to overspend and overindulge results in a sort-of crash once the season ends. We’ve done too much, eaten too much and neglected sufficient sleep and exercise. It’s no surprise that January finds us with low energy, turbulent emotions, and post-holiday depression.

Tips for Overcoming Post-Holiday Depression

The factors of post-holiday depression are a consequence of abandoning the patterns that keep us healthy and stable. To cope, we need to return to healthy routines. It’s also helpful to identify what caused us to depart from those patterns and plan to avoid those future mistakes. Here are some suggestions:

Healthy Eating after the Holidays

The parties are over, but there are plenty of leftovers. When we consume too much fat and sugar, we experience a temporary spike in energy followed by a much longer period of lethargy. This contributes to a cycle of more sitting, less exercise and more snacking. There is often a correlation between these unhealthy choices and depression.

Wean yourself off those fats and sugars by reducing portions. Then also consider the frequency that you dip into that massive canister of holiday treats still sitting on the counter. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. And perhaps most importantly, stay hydrated throughout the day. Water helps fill our stomachs, diminishing the itch to snack, and it also helps our bodies digest food.

Rest and Restoration

If you’re not getting seven to nine hours of sleep per day, aim to get to bed earlier. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and turn off those tablets and smartphones by early evening. This helps quiet down the brain and prepare for better sleep.

You need about 30 minutes of rigorous exercise per day. Whether a brisk walk or climbing stairs, aerobic exercise is known to increase the level of serotonin (a chemical that boosts one’s mood). And get outdoors when the weather permits. Sunshine produces Vitamin D in our bodies, promoting serotonin production.

Gratitude and Growth

Remember the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music? There’s a profound truth behind this little song. Expressing gratitude for the things that bring us joy in life greatly contributes to our health. An attitude of gratitude leads to improvements in sleep and in our cardiovascular and immune systems.

Scripture admonishes us to thank God “always and for everything” (Ephesians 5:20). This includes the things that bring us happiness, but also the challenges that God allows in our lives. This attitude of gratitude is a major part of our mental health because it increases serotonin, dopamine and melatonin — natural brain chemicals known to improve our mood.

Wisdom for the Future

A major source of post-holiday depression can be facing those inevitable bills from budget-busting purchases. Make a reasonable plan for paying off those bills before purchasing anything else, and if overspending is a chronic problem, research local classes that can help you develop good financial habits. Many employers and churches offer programs, such as Financial Peace University, to help families learn strategies for wise financial decisions.

We must develop a mindset that can help us make better choices about how we spend our money over future holidays. Consider this past year’s purchases. What was the motivation for the purchase? How was the gift received? How is it being used now? The gift of your child’s dreams lasts only as long as that gift has value to the child, which may end long before the bills are paid. Consider that most kids really want quality time with their parents more than gifts and that the memories of the season will last much longer than the material possessions.

Slow Down

Why do the good and healthy parts of the holiday season have to end so quickly? If you don’t do well with abrupt endings, feel free to gradually back away from the reminders of the holiday season. Take down decorations a few at a time, or plan a special family dinner for early in the new year and reminisce by looking at photos and videos from the past year. No, you’re not trying to create new sources of stress. You’re just reserving a little time for the peace and relaxation that you’d wished you had time for over the actual holidays.


Seasonal Sadness and Seasonal Affective Disorder

If post-holiday depression seems to be a yearly winter ritual, consider whether you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This mental health condition tends to begin and end at the same time each year. Especially during the months of shorter daylight hours when the sky is darker for longer stretches of time. For some people, SAD can occur in the spring and summer as well.

The disruption of a person’s internal body clock and lowering levels of serotonin and melatonin can cause seasonal depression. Those who have SAD feel depressed most of the day and show many of the symptoms of depression, such as a loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, low energy, disrupted sleep, distraction and changes in appetite or weight, as well as feelings of hopelessness.

The symptoms are felt for a season of the year rather than on an ongoing basis. Typically, the suggestions to return to healthy routines and habits do little to alleviate the symptoms of SAD. Therefore, if you notice this pattern in yourself or someone you love, you should seek help from a licensed medical or mental health professional.

J.D.

About the Author

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Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Thank you for committing to pray for the pre-born!

Sign up below for your free seven-day prayer guide. This daily guide will help give direction to your prayers for the pro-life movement. We will be praying with you! 

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