Post-Holiday Rut? Here's How to Get Out of It


Olivia Lucero

The most wonderful time of the year. That may be true for some people, but for others, the holidays are laced with connotations of anxiety and depression caused by comparing ourselves to others, perfectionism, lack of communication, family conflict, and breakups. It doesn’t help that seasonal affective disorder, a subtype of the mood disorders, might have us feeling the “winter blues” due to a lot less sunlight and therefore a lot less literal warmth of temperature and metaphorical warmth of hearts. Not having your ex with you anymore to cuddle, calm you down, and look at the lights is just icing on the cake making us all the more worked up and hopeless. If you’ve found yourself in one of these holiday ruts, we feel you, and we’re here to help you through it.

Sunlight is very limited during the winter months so it’s important that you use your daylight wisely. Wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier so that you have more time in the sun. It is very possible that your body has started to produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone, due to the surrounding darkness. If you ignore your body telling you it’s time to sleep, then you will spend the rest of the day feeling lethargic and drained of your energy, which definitely affects your mood! When it is time to wake up, stand outside for a few minutes to soak in the sun’s rays. No, really, you get less Vitamin D when you have less exposure to the sun, so make sure to get out there because Vitamin D is necessary to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves cognition and mood.

No one is perfect, and no one cares that you aren’t, either! We want to impress during the holidays. We want to have great decorations, cook an amazing dish, give the best gifts, but think about it. How often do you drive by a house with great lights and think “wow, that family really has their stuff together”? Never! You’re too busy admiring the lights. How often do you drive by a house without lights, or with kind of lousy lights, and judge them for not being perfect? Never. You don’t care if your neighbor pulled out the ladder to put up their lights, and they don’t care if you did either. No one cares if your food isn’t good. They probably don’t even know who made it and are just grateful to be eating anything. No one cares if you got everyone the same gift card. They are too concerned with themselves and their gifts to even notice. Really, this stuff doesn’t matter, and trying to be perfect might impress some people, but the majority of people won’t even notice. So, what really matters here is yourself. The holidays may have gotten you overwhelmed and stressed, but moving forward, take time to breathe, and stop caring what people think. Just do what makes you comfortable. Don’t be afraid to return gifts that you hate. Don’t feel like you have to take your lights down as soon as possible. Don’t feel obligated to communicate with or spend time with anyone that brings you down.

Family/friend conflict is a big source of holiday ruts. If something someone said or did during the holidays leaves you feeling uneasy even days or weeks after, speak up. If something needs to be said, say it, even if you think it might “ruin” someone’s holidays. Both parties are already feeling tense and ignoring that tension just makes everyone uncomfortable. Communication is key, and bottling things up just brings you down. Not speaking up is one way to ensure more anxiety, and not communicating your needs is one way to ensure they won’t be met. Look out for yourself, because no one else is. No one can read your mind.

Feeling left out? If you aren’t close to any family or friends, the holidays were probably a tough season for you. Everyone is stressing the importance of being with loved ones, and you’re feeling lonely and left out. Well, the obvious answer is to make friends, but clearly, that’s not the easiest thing to do. Instead, do things that used to make you happy. Become friends with yourself again. Start to enjoy your alone time by filling it with interesting activities, books, and self-exploration. Depression makes us feel isolated and detached, unable to take interest in anything anymore. So you may not want to do anything, but you really do need to. Go out hiking if that’s something you enjoyed once, go to coffee shops to browse the internet rather than doing it at home, play video games, or exercise, or whatever it was that you enjoyed before the depression kicked in. It will help to engage your mind and body. The change in scenery and being in the presence of others, even if you are not with them, will definitely help.

Check out our blog post “How to Refocus Your Love This Holiday Season“. It has plenty of great tips that can last you even after the holidays and help you get out of this rut. Having something to work towards brings us motivation and positive energy, so check out How to Set New Year’s Resolutions Using the Law of Attraction and SMART Goals. It’s not too late for hopes, dreams, and New Year themes.

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