“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” – Charles Dickens
After all the wrapping paper, bows and decorations are put away, all the big holiday meals a thing of the past, and the thought of all the credit card bills coming due to pay for everything, if you’re feeling a bit low, you’re not alone. The after-Christmas blues affect everyone in different ways, but it does seem to be hard to escape.
It doesn’t have to linger, though, and here are my top 10 tips on how to beat the after-Christmas blues.
Take Everything Back at Once
Why torment yourself with thoughts of several days’ worth of trudging back to the store to use up gift cards, return or exchange unwanted, wrong size, color, design or whatever items after Christmas? Instead, get it all over at one time by taking everything back on a single day. This way, you’re likely to accomplish what you need and put that task behind you. Caveat: Try to avoid doing this the day after Christmas when everyone else is doing the same thing.
Spend Less Time on Social Media and More Face-to-Face with Friends
While social media makes it ever so easy to connect with friends, when you’re feeling blue after a big holiday like Christmas, it makes better sense to engage in real-time interaction with your pals than using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. Connecting one-on-one and in-person also helps rid you of lingering disappointment that the holidays are over, creates tangible feelings of well-being, and reminds you that we’re all in this together.
Eat Better, Sleep Well and Exercise More
No doubt your diet suffered during the holidays along with getting less sleep than you should and foregoing the gym or your daily walk. Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to get back to your healthy routine — or begin one, if you haven’t before. Stop unhealthy snacking and gorging yourself like it’s your last meal (it’s not). Eat well-balanced, nutritious meals at appropriate times. Get a good 8 hours sleep each night, and remove electronic devices from the bedroom so they don’t tempt you to catch up on messages, emails, etc., and carve out at least 15-20 minutes daily for some sort of vigorous exercise. Even a short walk outside will help eradicate the after-Christmas blues.
Note: This also helps dash winter blues.
Start a New Project
There’s nothing better to take your mind off of what’s bothering you, including post-holiday sadness, than diving into a new project. Whether it’s repainting the living room, poring through catalogs for spring bulbs, creating plans for an addition, shopping for new appliances, doing research for a new or replacement vehicle, gathering information on going back to school, the process of involving yourself in a new project not only occupies your time, it also lifts your mood, gives you something to look forward to, and is a healthy way to live.
Does it seem like there’s a void now that all the relatives and friends have gone, you’re back at work or left alone at home while others are off tending to everyday things? While the hours slowly grind away, there’s much too much time to sit around feeling sorry for yourself or allow sad thoughts to intrude even while you’re halfheartedly trying to work. Here my recommendation is to stay busy, and make sure to always have another task or assignment or chore to go to on your to-do list. This way, there’s no down-time, no time to dwell on emotional lows. By staying busy, you’re being focused and acting. This passes the time and helps you be more productive, both of which can reduce feelings of sadness.
When you wake up each morning, take a few minutes to reflect on all the things you’re grateful for in life. While you might automatically start to think about how sad you feel, acknowledge the emotion and then think how fortunate you are to be alive. Your troubles aren’t so great, no matter what they are, that you don’t have things to be grateful for. These include family, friends, a job, a home to live in, your health, and so on. Gratitude is one of the most effective ways to dispel the after-Christmas blues.
Do Something for Others
It doesn’t take much time out of your day, or much effort, for that matter, to do something for others. If you know of someone who’s ill and house-bound, for example, give them a call or stop by for a visit to help lift their spirits and give them the opportunity for real-time social interaction. Back to those unwanted, wrong size, color, etc. gifts, consider donating them to those in need. There are many individuals who won’t at all mind wearing an oversized shirt or ugly Christmas sweater or plaid pair of pants or hot pink sneakers. Both you and the recipient get something good out of it.
Plan Something Special
Another way to get your mind off being blue is to begin planning something special. This might be a night out with your loved one, a day at the spa to treat yourself, creating a romantic dinner or working on plans for summer vacation. When you’re planning, you’re being forward-thinking and taking concrete steps to make the plans reality.
Take a Short Trip
Why not get away for a while? Even a short trip, such as a day trip, can work wonders to drive away the blues and get you back on an even emotional state. A weekend trip might be more appropriate, but with holiday expenses eating up a chunk of the budget, a shorter day trip might better serve your purposes. Go with a friend or loved one to maximize your enjoyment of the excursion. You might even be able to use a gift card you received at Christmas.
Pursue an Interest
There must be something in your life you’ve put off, thinking you didn’t have the time, energy or resources to pursue. Maybe now is the perfect time to delve into that interest. See if there’s some way to make room for it in your life. Surely, if something is important to you, you’ve dreamt about it or had it on your wish list for some time, it’s worth taking a serious look at. Besides, this is an excellent way to jumpstart motivation, lift your spirits and put the after-Christmas blues in the past.
Important: If your blues last longer than two weeks, it may be a sign of clinical depression, which is best treated with psychotherapy.
Read more: psychcentral.com