Outreach: Post-Holiday Blues


The stress of returning to an eight-hour workday; running kids to their before- and after-school obligations; reinstituting mundane daily tasks. Did you actually get to relax during the holiday season? Or were you busy shopping and fulfilling family obligations? Although you may have enjoyed your family time, and the excitement of celebrating, a lot of us have difficulty readjusting after the holidays.

Post-holiday depression can surface in feelings of exhaustion, frustration and general feelings of a low mood. It’s difficult to return to status quo after a few weeks of disrupted routine. So, what can you do to aid a tranquil transition back into daily life?

Make time for yourself. You may have spent your holidays wrapping presents, planning parties, cleaning, baking, cooking, etc. Schedule a few days of down time at the end of the vacation to do something fun, or to just do nothing. Making sure you have no responsibilities for a day or two can jumpstart your regular routine.

Start with small tasks while transitioning back into regular routine. Make a list and start with the small, easy stuff first. Check your emails, reply to the easiest ones, and work your way up to the more difficult tasks. By starting with the small stuff (can be chores when at home!) and marking them off, it stimulates a sense of accomplishment and can be encouraging to move forward.

“Get to” versus “have to.” Even if you don’t believe it initially, try reframing your thought process.  Instead of “I have to go to work,” try to view it as a privilege. You get to go to work. A lot of people don’t. Framing negative thoughts into positive ones can become part of your regular self-talk, and you begin to better appreciate everyday life in small tasks.

Ask for help when you need it. If you have other people in your household, or who are close to you, you can always ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes saying “I’m too tired to cook dinner, let’s order in tonight,” is perfectly acceptable. Asking your children or spouse to clean up is perfectly okay. You do not have to be responsible for everything. If you’re on your own, cut yourself some slack. Let the dishes sit until the next day. Take the trash out before you head to work. Small tasks will still be there when you’re ready.

Most importantly, acknowledge your feelings. You are entitled to whatever you’re feeling—how you react to your feelings is how you begin to make changes. Feeling frustrated? Take a few deep breaths. Feeling overwhelmed? Ask for help. Practicing self-care is the beginning of being the best you you can be—faults and all.

Outreach Teen & Family Services is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families, in a welcoming, supportive environment.  This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.