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12 tips to overcome the post-holiday blues

Julia Park

Man working on the computer sipping coffee

And with that, the holiday season has come to an end. The decorations are being put in storage until next year, the kids go back to school, and we adults are settling back into the regular routine. 

For some, the end of the holidays brings relief. No more relatives to stress about pleasing, no more worrying about the financial toll of the holidays. But for many, the end of the holiday season brings about feelings of sadness, loneliness, burnout, and stress, otherwise known as the post-holiday blues.

It's natural to feel down after the holidays, and we’re here to help you understand what post-holiday blues are and share practical tips to overcome them. Plus, we’ll share different ways in which you can use the Muse brain-sensing headbands which can be an effective tool for alleviating post-holiday blues – let’s get started!

What are the post-holiday blues?

Not to be confused with depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the post-holiday blues involve strong waves of emotion that impact our wellbeing. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that roughly 64% of people experience post-holiday blues, so if you find yourself struggling – you’re not alone. 

Take a look through some of the more common signs of the post-holiday blues to see if any of them resonate with your experience.

  • You struggle to get quality sleep.
  • You’re easily irritated.
  • You’re struggling with anxious feelings.
  • You’re having trouble concentrating.
  • You feel low on energy and burnt out.

If you’re experiencing any of the above, you may be experiencing the post-holiday blues. It's important to know that these symptoms can also be indicative of anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. However, unlike depression and anxiety disorders, which typically require at least two weeks of symptoms to receive a diagnosis, the post-holiday blues are usually shorter-lived.

*If your symptoms persist beyond two weeks, it’s advisable to consult with a trusted healthcare provider or mental health professional.

Sad woman

What prompts the post-holiday blues?

There are a number of things that can contribute to a post-holiday hangover of the blues.

Alcohol and sugar consumption

It comes as no surprise to you that a month-long binge on all things sugary sweet can contribute to a pretty substantial crash come January 1st. Research has found that foods and drinks with high sugar content are linked to a higher risk of depression. So whether it be your mom’s home-cooked fudge, baked goods, or festive cocktails, moderation can be helpful to avoid the post-holiday slump.

Non-stop busyness

Many have theorized that it’s the non-stop busyness and stimulation that often accompanies the holiday season that contributes most to the post-holiday blues. During the holidays you were always running around from activity to activity, preparing celebrations and entertaining family and friends. But once the holidays are over life feels a bit empty, and that adrenaline rush of non-stop activity comes to a halt.

Lack of sleep

Research has found that poor sleep can contribute to and worsen depression. Getting only a few hours of sleep consistently can leave us running on fumes, putting us on edge and keeping us in a constant state of stress. With all the social events and holiday activities, it’s no wonder then that once the holidays end we find ourselves feeling exhausted instead of rejuvenated. 

Financial strain

The financial strain of the holiday season is a big contributor to poor mental health after the holidays finish. Many people place a lot of pressure on themselves to get the perfect gift for their loved ones. While the intent is born of kindness, it can lead to a lot of stress during the holidays as you search for that perfect gift, and again come January when the bill arrives.

Post-holiday depression and mental health

If the holidays take a toll on your mental health, you’re not alone. NAMI reports that for roughly 24% of people with a mental health condition, the holidays make their symptoms “a lot” worse while 40% say the holidays make their conditions “somewhat worse.”

Two people meditating

12 ways you can flow through the holiday blues this year

If you are experiencing the post-holiday blues this January, there are several ways you can help yourself overcome these emotions and feel better.

  1. Prioritize self-care – drink enough water, eat foods that make you feel good, get your body moving, and engage in passions that relax and nurture you.

    If you’re trying to get back to your sleep schedule after the holidays, use the Muse S Headband to help you ease back in. Proven to improve by 20% in sleep quality, our SmartSense EEG sensors read your brainwaves and translate them to real-time gentle audio feedback. Get insights into your sleep quality and track your progress with personalized sleep scores to find your deepest rests again.

  2. Schedule fun activities you’re passionate about to make up for the loss of stimulation and non-stop action of the holidays. If you’re looking to do some fun, relaxing activities, here are a few suggestions.

  3. Practice acceptance in knowing that these feelings will pass. 

  4. Connect with people who nourish your soul. Try to meet them in person, so skip the texting, pick up the phone, or set a date. And instead of talking about the negative, focus on the positive, like what their favorite part of the holidays was.

  5. Get your body moving in a way that feels good to you. Better yet, get out of the house by going on a walk – fresh air and a change of scenery could do you a world of good.

  6. Prioritize relaxing and not doing more than your energy allows. In other words, don’t push yourself; Embrace non-striving and cultivate inner peace.

  7. Volunteer your time for people and causes you care deeply about.

  8. Design a routine that makes you feel good (and stick with it)!

  9. Do a New Year’s cleaning spree and shape up your environment so it elevates your mood and life. 

  10. Meditate on gratitude to center all the good things in your life instead of ruminating on the negative.

    If you’re continuing to feel uneasy after getting back to your regular program, take a few minutes out of your day to meditate with the Muse 2 Headband. Our brain-sensing headband has an impressive 92% accuracy in detecting perceived stress and guides you through stress reduction using any of 500+ soundscapes and guided meditations.

  11. Shift perspective and start looking forward, not back. Start with small goals that excite you and that you can easily accomplish to build you up and help motivate you.

  12. Last but certainly not least – be loving and patient with yourself.

The holidays are a complicated time and can be tougher than we imagine. Treat yourself with love and kindness, and you’ll go a long way in preserving your mental health and brain wellness. Here’s to 2024, a year brimming with mindfulness, calm, and prioritizing healthy minds!

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