The holidays, as we all know, are a period of go, go, go. Social calendars fill up, holiday parties stack on top of one another, folks have to hit the stores, and family and friends come flooding into town. While for some, this is a heady rush, it can trigger anxiety and depression in others. And even when one navigates the season successfully, the sudden quiet on the other side of the new year can do the same—meet the “post-holiday” blues.
The past two years of pandemic life—thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis—can exacerbate this as well. Our social schedules are all out of whack, and we are more attuned to our own personal health and wellbeing at a time that usually involves increased mingling. These concerns serve as a catalyst for the already overwhelming stresses of the season.
And it’s not just adults. Children are creatures of habit, and the holiday craze will throw those habits way out of balance. It’s important to be mindful of your children’s (and your own!) mental health so that if the holiday or post-holiday blues strike, you can be empathetic and manage them appropriately.
What Are the Post-Holiday Blues?
The “post-holiday blues” refers to the emotions felt when returning to normal life after a vacation, holiday, or festivity. You’ve been “off the clock”—celebrating, relaxing, and living your best life—and then it all comes to an abrupt end as you crash back into reality. Think of it as jetlag from life.
Especially in kids, this can go hand-in-hand with the comparison trap. Falsely judging your life by vacation time can lead you to believe that your everyday life isn’t exciting. Kids may compare their every day to their holiday time—filled with attention and bombarded with fun activities, trips, and visits from family and friends. When this ends, reality can seem frustratingly ordinary and may leave them with feelings of depression and anxiety.
Some of your most festive moments might also contribute to these feelings! Excessive sugar intake, general overeating, and insomnia are all linked to holiday stress. Kids who are overtired from weeks of activity may struggle more with their emotions at this time.
The good news? The post-holiday blues are almost always temporary. The initial change in rhythm is always jarring. But after a few weeks, you and your kids will settle back into your old routines, have no fear. Adults generally bounce back quicker than children, so be mindful about guiding your kids back to everyday life. But it will happen!
However, there are those who struggle more than others to return to normal. If you feel it is taking longer than it should, consider seeking help from a professional.
Recognizing Post-Holiday Blues Symptoms
While post-holiday blues manifest in a variety of ways, there are certain signs you can look out for to keep everyone’s mental health in check. Changes in appetite, weight, sleep patterns, and behavior are all warning signs that something may be amiss. Difficulty concentrating, feelings of extreme fatigue, as well as a loss of interest in one-time favorites are also things to take note of. Your kids may not be able to verbalize their case of the (post) holiday blues—it’s hard enough for adults to spot it in themselves, after all—so it’s important to keep an eye out for these symptoms.
The cycle can start to repeat itself, like those in a depressive state sometimes turn to food or risky behaviors to try and elevate their moods. These unfortunately can have the opposite effect, aggravating the situation and making it worse.
Beating the Post Holiday Blues
Recognizing the problem is only half the battle. But once you spot the signs of the holiday blues, there are steps you can take to conquer them.
First of all, remember the importance of self-love. When it comes to those holiday commitments, no one says you have to say yes to everything. Remember that you and your kids are only human, and sometimes you need a break. Make time for yourself and your family to disengage from the chaos if you need to.
A good babysitter can provide much-needed support for you through the season—and might give your kids a needed break from the manic family frenzy that is the holidays too! Look for suitable dates ahead of time, and book a babysitter so that you can get some adult time with your partner, with friends, or just by yourself.
In addition to a “me-day,” watch your family’s daily routines. Make sure you and your kids get enough exercise, keep a regular bedtime, and eat healthy to keep up energy. It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep and a nourishing meal can do for a child’s mood (and your own)!
On the flip side, to combat the post-holiday lull, start filling the calendar back up. While pre-season anxiety is triggered by overstimulation, post-holiday blues are usually caused by a sharp drop-off in social time. Scatter some play dates and family visits after the holidays to gently ease your kids back into the normal swing of things. Humans are social creatures, after all, and connection and rhythm are important. If possible, redistribute some of those pre-holiday commitments to after the new year to balance out your seasonal swings.
Maintaining a healthy balance of family, responsibilities, and fun is essential for any parent. Looking after yourself also teaches your kids the importance of self-care. Teaching healthy holiday habits at a young age will help them establish firm boundaries and good coping mechanisms. Kids who see you prioritizing your health and wellbeing will copy that behavior.
Gift Yourself Mental Wellbeing This Holiday
Taking care of your family’s mental and physical health is critical to surviving the holiday (and post-holiday) season. Learning to identify signs of the (post) holiday blues will give you the power to address problems as they arise.
Establishing a good child care plan for during and directly after the holidays is a great way to get ahead of the struggles that come with this time of year. Look at childcare options and make plans for a babysitter to watch your kids as necessary. Babysitters bring with them a fresh perspective and approach to the holidays, providing as much of a breather for your kids as for you.
When it comes to assessing these holiday calendar logistics, Nanno’s babysitting app is uniquely designed to help you navigate the season. Nanno is built to accommodate both on-demand and regularly-occurring babysitting needs, with a network of highly-qualified sitters spanning most metro U.S. areas. All sitters are thoroughly screened and vetted, ensuring you peace of mind that your kids are well looked after. Sign up for Nanno today and beat those post-holiday blues.