Post Holiday Blues

If you had a “blue” Christmas and New Year’s you’ll likely feel better after the holidays are over. In contrast, those who were excited about the holidays may find themselves emotionally down after the festivities have ended. The holiday season takes a lot of preparation. Then it is suddenly over and you may think, “Is that all there is?” Children experience anticipation and excitement and may feel flat after all the presents are opened.

The Christmas season comes at the end of a busy fall. Many of us are getting tired from the routines we live with each day. As the holidays approach there is a flurry of tiring social engagements or concerts or other outings.

Taking time to rest after Christmas will help lift spirits. Exhaustion is a large part of the “blues”. Children also need time to “hang out” with their toys or gifts so as to savor them and unwind.

This New Year’s celebration is particularly unique, as it is the end of a year, a decade, a century and a millennium. Y2K fears have been fueled by the press, making the transition to year 2000 scary for many people. These fears can drag you down.

Even with a smooth New Year’s transition and none of the predicted problems unfolding, this particular occasion brings with it more than most-a sense of time passing by, which leaves many of us feeling our age. Sharing fears or other feelings by talking or writing to friends will shrink them to a more manageable size. Hiding the worry away will have the opposite effect. Some of you feel sad because you had contact with family and friends over the holidays and then had to say goodbye once again. On Christmas Eve, The National Post featured an article about a group of people who traveled over 45 hours by bus from Toronto to various communities in Newfoundland.

For these individuals, getting home for Christmas was of great importance. Travelling back to Toronto on January 2 is likely to be somber in contrast to the frivolity on the trip out. Sharing sadness about leaving behind family and friends will ease the pain. Again, this can be done by talking or writing, perhaps to the missed people themselves. At times, the blues can stem from a spiritual flatness. The Christmas season is a time of “spiritual renewal”. For those who take the opportunity to charge themselves up spiritually, the holidays can be a time of joy and peace.

The post holiday blues can be an invitation to look at the spiritual side of life and develop it. This can be done by reading spiritual articles or revisiting a belief system or religion that one had earlier in life. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for post holiday blahs is the parade of bills that start rolling in during January. Many well-laid plans for fiscal restraint get abandoned during the days leading up to Christmas.

New Year’s is a time when many of us make resolutions to improve in the months ahead. Better money management may need to be part of this process and perhaps the services of a financial planner might help as well. Goal planning can be a useful exercise anytime.

Using the early New Year as an opportunity to check old goals and make new ones can help lift the blues. Another downer is the realization that there will be no breaks in our routine lives until Easter. Add to that the reality that the days are often dark, short and dreary with rain and it is no wonder some of us feel down. The good news is that the days are already getting longer. Getting out for walks regardless of the weather always lifts one’s spirits.

Maybe the holiday blues is about attitude. There are people who do not get blue before the holidays (apart from some resurfacing anniversary grief related to the loss of a loved one) and do not get blue after the holidays either. These people have figured out that the lesson of Christmas is not to get but to give.

Those who are good at giving unconditionally seem to be happy and most importantly, peaceful.

Post Holiday Blues
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Denis works with couples and individuals. His areas of interest include marriage, grief and stress. He also counsels people who suffer from depression and anxiety symptoms, as well as those struggling with personal growth issues.

Denis is eclectic in his use of psychological approaches, which include Adlerian, cognitive/behavioural, systems, psychodynamic, brief solution focused, existential and emotionally focused therapies.

Denis is a popular speaker who presents talks and workshops on a variety of topics including marriage, grief, retirement, emotional maturity and family relationships. He has published a book titled, “Marriage Can Be Great!…no really.”

Denis was a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He helped to start the first hospice program in B.C. in 1975.

Denis received his Master of Arts degree from the University of British Columbia in 1977 and works as a Registered Psychologist. He is a member of the B.C. College of Psychologists and the B.C. Psychological Association.

Most importantly Denis has been married to Maureen for over thirty years and they have four children.

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