If you are feeling low after your holiday, you are not alone. Holiday Blues are well-recognised and common. A 2015 National Alliance on Mental Illness survey shows that 64% of respondents experience anxiety and depression during holidays.
First, this is not a medical diagnosis, and you will not find it in the DSM-V. It is a normal change in mood associated with holidays. There are many plausible reasons we will explore shortly. Don't worry, you can resolve it quickly. There are lots you can do to speed up recovery.
Second, could you be clinically depressed? Have you been slipping down the resilience spiral for months BUT were too busy to notice or investigate? If you have been suffering from persistent sadness for at least two weeks—associated with loss of energy, sleep and appetite disturbance, confusion, negative thinking and suicidal ideas— you should take it seriously and consult a qualified health professional.
Third, know that holiday blues are a temporary drop in mood. You may already be feeling better. Here are ten practical lessons to make sure they resolve and never return. Yes, I am serious. They are preventable.
Get up and move for at least 30 minutes per day starting today
Physical activity is the fastest way to burn off the consequence of much needed excess. It will lift your mood, improve sleep and restore your metabolism.
Get outdoors with friends and family
Whether it's summer or winter, being outside amongst the blues and greens of nature will lift your mood. A sunny day on the beach, a forest walk, or an amble in the snow will do the job. This is a good excuse for exercise.
Commit to waking with the blue light of dawn
This is an evolutionary gift. For larks, get up before dawn and greet the first light of day. Owls might like to see if they can get up just before the sun rises. Keep this up as a 2023 resolution. It is a good time to measure and improve your sleep quality.
Take an hour to list your highlights of 2022
Describe these fully, listing the positive memories associated. Slow down, exhale and generate appreciation and gratitude. Even if 2022 tested you, focus on the good. Lock it in.
Define what matters to you in 2023
For those who were too busy or did not find the motivation to do so before the end of 2022, it's never too late. What are three good things you want to keep up? Define three new goals you want to secure. Make a reasonable plan for each. Be bold. There is nothing wrong with high expectations and a little striving.
Consider a sober January
A lot of us tend to commit and fail quickly. There is nothing wrong with starting again. Initially, it feels like a downer, but within three days, you will feel more energised, positive and engaged. By the end of the month, your life will be enhanced. Review your goals at the end.
Use the downtime to boost your practice
Breathe slowly, meditate or pray. The past three years have shaken us up. We will meet 2023 more successfully if we are calm and rejuvenated. Learn to keep up your practice even if you feel down.
Read a great book
I have just finished A System so Magnificent it is Blinding by Amanda Svensson. What an incredible journey.
Remember your closest family and friends
What message, call or visit would add joy to their New Year? Reach out, and be interested. Wish them well. What might you do to improve their 2023?
Prepare properly for your next holiday
If you are relaxed, fit, and connected to what matters before a holiday starts, holiday blues are unlikely.