Wait … hear that? That’s our collective sigh marking the fact that the great holiday season of 2011 has finally come to a close. And while for many of us, that is indeed a relief — there’s no more cooking, no more cleaning, no more forced New Year’s revelry — the post-holiday period can represent a real time of sadness and readjustment, too.
Each of us has our own personal blend of apres-holidays feelings, but there are many issues and emotions that crop up again, and again and again. So we went to a team of experts to ask for some advice on what you can do — right now — to help beat those post-holiday blues.
Cut Yourself Some Slack
And while for many of us, that is indeed a relief — there’s no more cooking, no more cleaning, no more forced New Year’s revelry – the post-holiday period can represent a real time of sadness and readjustment, too.
Each of us has our own personal blend of apres-holidays feelings, but there are many issues and emotions that crop up again, and again and again. So we went to a team of experts to ask for some advice on what you can do – right now – to help beat those post-holiday blues.
First thing’s first: When it comes to getting back to “normal” after the holidays, remember that you are not a robot.
“After the holidays, people have this expectation that because they’re supposed to be back at work, that everything is going to be normal,” said Dr. Amanda Itzkoff, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “We’re not machines. We don’t have a button that we can just push that says ‘it’s over.'”
The first step, is just knowing that’s a real possibility. Whether it’s sadness over lingering family issues, or stress about the money you just spent, you might not feel like your typical self simply because the calendar says it’s time, Itzkoff said, and that is perfectly okay. Give yourself a pass for a few days and don’t feel annoyed or pressured if you don’t feel 100 percent immediately. You’re more likely to get back there sooner if you are patient with yourself.
Work In Structure
Itzkoff said that it can be helpful to try and resume your regular structure as soon as possible after the holidays have come to an end.
“People really underestimate how reliant they are on structure,” she said. “They get out of sorts after the holidays in part because all the things they ordinarily do on a schedule have stopped, and they feel like they end up getting fewer things accomplished.”
One key, post holidays? Make sure that when you’re getting back-on-track, schedule-wise, you make an effort to work in what Itzkoff calls the “parts of structure that are for you.”
So if you like going to the gym, or spending time with friends or cooking meals for your family, make sure you work those into your post-holidays plan. You’ll get back-on-track, schedule-wise and fit some joy into your life.
Get Your Pamper On
As you make an effort to return to a schedule, you should also pause for a moment (or two) and give yourself a break.
Sara Madera, a professional event planner who runs Event Lucky, is familiar with the post-event slump and said for hosts and hostesses, much of it comes from “decision fatigue” — having to make all the little choices that go into entertaining.
The best way through it? Pamper yourself.
“You spent months taking care of your house, the decorations, your guests — now it’s your turn. I find that a little bit of chocolate and a pedicure work wonders in restoring my spirit,” she said.
“Sometimes it also includes a day of vegging out — not making a single decision — to get me back to working order,” Madera continued. “If it takes you a week to get to get to the thank you notes and pictures, so be it.”
Stop The Holiday Binge
With all of the New Year’s weight-loss propaganda in your face right now, this tip might seem like overkill. But it does bear repeating: Now is the time to eliminate all of those starchy holiday foods and candies.
It was perfectly fine to indulge during the holidays, explained registered dietitian and HuffPost blogger Cheryl Forberg, former nutritionist for “The Biggest Loser.” But it can do a real number on your energy and mood if you continue.
“Some people get a real buzz from that sugar high and afterwards, they get the blues,” she said. “Before adding [anything to your diet], I would say just ‘stop it.’ Push back from those things. Not only is it going to make your mind feel better, but it’s going to give you more energy so you can exercise.”
Add In Omega-3s
When it comes to adding certain foods to your post-holiday diet, Forberg recommends getting plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are present in fish, walnuts and flax seeds. Why? Omega-3s are mood boosters, she explained, as they make up a lot of our brain tissue.
Don’t expect results right away – Forberg explained that Omega-3 is a fat soluble vitamin that our body stores over time, so it may take weeks to build up and make a difference in your body. But in the meantime, just knowing that you’re nurturing your body can help boost your mood and sense of wellbeing.
Think High Intensity
When it comes to your post-holiday workout, consider something that’s high-intensity for short bursts of time says Marybeth Weiss, T4 coaching manager at Equinox, Tribeca. Whether it’s kickboxing or intervals (which can be done whether or not you can afford a gym membership), it will help you get the release you need.
Intensity, however, does not mean going overboard in terms of your commitment.
“We see a lot of people come in and go crazy in the first couple of weeks, and then they slump off because it’s not something they can maintain,” Weiss said. That just sets you up for feeling lousy, she added, so instead just be realistic and generous with yourself. All that matters is that you get up and get active.
Know When It’s Time For Help
“These are tips for people who don’t need medical treatment,” Itzkoff said. But if you feel like you’re in more than just a mild post-holiday slump, you should talk to your doctor straight away.
Signs to be on the lookout for? Itzkoff said it’s time to go to a professional if you’ve thought about harming yourself or anyone else, if you’re not sleeping, if you’ve lost weight without trying, or if you are feeling really poorly about yourself.