Minimizing Post Holiday Depression
Ugh, first day back at work after eleven days off. I did work one day from home to make up some time, but it really doesn't count as much as work when you do it while sitting in bed and watching "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" reruns. Plus, we also had lots of great food and now I'm facing the need to lose three pounds. And I'm missing my husband and son, since I got used to spending a lot of time with them. January stinks.
Chances are that you're feeling the same way, especially if you suffer from depression. Having clinical depression is difficult at any time of the year. Soft spring weather and bright summer skies mock your internal darkness and make it seem deeper. Valentine's Day may serve to remind you how pitiful your love life is, thanks to depression. And the holidays can seem too bright, noisy and exhausting.
But one of the hardest times of the year to endure depression is after the holidays. Let's face it, even someone without depression is likely to find it a fairly bleak period, compared to the weeks that preceded it.
Of course there's the obvious reason that the period right after the holidays is tough - going back to work or school after at least a few days off. In the same way that Sunday nights stink if you're depressed, the problem is escapism, or the potential lack of it. If you're depressed, during your time off you may have been self-medicating, so to speak, by distracting yourself with activities that appeal to you, be it television, movies, books, video games or bungee-jumping.
But there are some other factors that may be contributing to the post-holiday crash:
- You may have put all your worries about money, job performance or future plans on hiatus during the holidays. Now it's all coming rushing back, along with the, "Crud! I never took care of (fill in the blank)," which you really planned to get done during your vacation.
- Your depression may be exacerbated by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is prevalent in many, if not most, locations above the Equator at this time of the year.
- You probably spent more time than usual socializing during the holidays. Even though this can be difficult when you're depressed, the contact with other people really is good for you.
- Now you have a lot of empty hours to fill. No parties, no get-togethers, no caroling or watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with your best friend.
- Weight gain and lack of energy due to all the good food and neglecting your exercise routine.Lack of sleep finally taking its toll.
- No money!
How can you minimize the post-holiday crash? One thing you need to try to do is revisit some of the things that boosted your mood during the holiday season. In addition, take extra good care of yourself.
- Make an effort to schedule activities with family and/or friends. As I said in my SharePost about keeping the holiday blues away, we try to cram everything into that short six week period. Why not do some of the things that you didn't get to in time? Cookie exchanges, for instance, can be done at any time of the year.
- Take care of yourself. I know this is hard when you're depressed, but good nutrition, a healthy amount of sleep (not too much and not too little) and moderate exercise will help a lot. Along these lines, if you suspect that you are suffering from SAD, make an appointment with your psychiatrist to address it.
- Find some ways to live frugally, at least for the next couple of months, without too much pain. You might be surprised at how you can actually improve your life. I recently started making my morning mocha myself (saving $4 per day) and honestly, I do a better job than Starbucks. I realize that when you're depressed it's harder to find the energy to do things yourself, but a little organization can pave the way. You can find a lot of recipes from your favorite restaurants here.
Most importantly, contact your doctor if you feel you're in trouble. A temporary raise in medication or increase in therapy sessions may be in order.