By Craig Booker
January 23, 2024

3 tips to beat post-holiday blues

Feeling down after the holidays? Remember, self-care isn't selfish, it's essential.

Oh, the holidays. It is a joyous time in late fall and early winter when people celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, and more. It’s a season filled with delicious food, caroling, gift-giving, and parties galore. It is a time when people speak of slowing down, yet they speed up in the same season. 

The season begins in mid-November as many celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday with fabulous food and time with family or friends. It kicks into high gear in December as people gather to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s. Throughout this time, people of all faiths and traditions take time away from work, eat delicious foods, frantically shop for gifts, enjoy beautiful displays of lights, and hold on to their sacred traditions. Then, with a sudden bang, it all ends in early January.  

Post-holiday transition

What began gradually in mid-November has peaked, leaving many wondering where the time went. Here it is Saturday, and it dawns on you that “normal” life resumes on Monday. You are wrestling with many things and dreading the thought of work on Monday. So what do you do? 

Below are three tips to help you beat post-holiday blues.

1 – Practice self-care

Self-care is one of these words that gets thrown around a lot. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “…individuals, families and communities’ promoting and maintaining their own health, preventing disease, and coping with illness and disability, with or without the support of a health worker.” This term means a variety of things to different people, but there are a few misconceptions I want to break. 

Self-care Misconceptions

Self-care requires significant change: In my experience, focusing on small, sustainable ways of caring for my well-being works better.

Self-care is expensive: It is convenient to say, “I can’t afford self-care,” but it doesn’t have to be. Walking, reading a book, and journaling are all inexpensive ways.

Practicing self-care is being selfish: While the words “self-care” and “selfish” both start with “self,” that is where their similarities end. A person who is exhausted and burnt out cannot serve their community. A mom or dad who fails to find time for themselves will have nothing to offer their children at the end of a long week. Self-care allows us to serve and encourage others.

2 – Address loss

When you think about the holidays and transitioning from December to January, it can be challenging to think about the process in terms of loss. We can all relate to the disappointment when the holidays are over. Still, most people overlook the underlying reasons behind these feelings that often follow this time of year. Here are a few types of loss that many experience following the holiday season.

Loss of time with family or friends – Many return to their routines after the holidays. The events that brought friends or family together are over, which often means less time spent with those they care about. 

Loss of great food and exciting events or activities – The holidays are filled with exciting gatherings, programs, plays, and delicious food. As we ease into January, the lack of these things can create a sense of loss.

Loss of time away from work – For those who take time away from work, the new year means this extra time is over. With that loss, many people dread going back to work. 

3 – Create a game plan

It is late December or early January, and you face the transition many of us make after the holiday season. You may wonder if there is something you could do to improve this process. The typical adult has spent several weeks buying gifts and indulging in food, and there’s a chance their workout routine has slipped a little. A new year is upon us, and many things are weighing on you.

Regardless of where you find yourself, having a game plan is a great way to start your new year off right.

Reflect: The end of the year or the beginning of a new year is a great time to evaluate where you stand. Look over your accomplishments from the previous year, and take time to celebrate those. If you have yet to establish a well-defined personal mission statement, values, and goals, there are several great resources out there.

Identify: Considering your observations from step one, identify areas of life that you would like to improve or change. Create a list and sort them in order of importance.

Give: Give yourself time and grace as you begin your year in a healthy place. The path to lasting change will take time.

Hone in: Now that you have done the hard work to review and identify while offering yourself grace, it is time to hone in on your plan for the year ahead. It is a great time to decide on the goals, priorities, and projects to help you grow closer to the person you want to become.

Team up: Our culture commonly celebrates and over-glorifies the idea of being self-made. Building a team or a personal board of directors is crucial in making personal progress.

If you find yourself a bit overwhelmed, I would encourage you to start by focusing on one tip. My recommendation would be to start with self-care. It is one of the things most of us need more of, yet we tend to neglect it. If you feel you have self-care down, take a look at your game plan for the upcoming year.

Whatever you choose, make it fun and bring someone along for the journey!

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About Craig Booker

Craig Booker is the founder of Overflow, a community for anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. He is a freelance writer and mental health advocate. Craig is an Edmond native with a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is passionate about creating a safe space where people can be authentic, knowing they will find love, acceptance, and encouragement. Craig hosts a weekly podcast called, The Overflow Podcast," where he talks about mental health and personal growth. In each episode, Craig shares practical ways to positively impact mental health.