The holiday season may bring joy, excitement, anticipation, and busy schedules. For others, it may include feelings of loss, sadness, and stress. No matter what you feel, chances are it is a time filled with emotion. When it ends, it can often be met with a sense of letdown.

For me, the day after New Year’s Eve is the day I get my house cleaned up. I put all the holiday decorations away and enjoy getting the house to look normal again. I find the cleaning ritual cathartic. It helps separate the holidays from the rest of winter.

This cleaning process is part of starting fresh in the New Year. I try to stock the fridge with healthier fresh foods, take extra walks, and imagine the prospects of the year ahead. It is also the time when I look ahead and mark my yearly calendar with important dates including birthdays, trips, or important meetings.

For many, this may be a time that feels lonely. Family may all go home or back to their regular work lives. It can feel quiet and have a sense of sadness. This feeling has been named the holiday blues.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) describes the holiday blues as feelings of anxiety and stress that come up around the holidays and may be due to unrealistic expectations or memories connected to the holiday season.

This feeling is so prevalent, in fact, that a 2015 survey reported that 64% of people said they experienced the post-holiday blues. It is often exacerbated by fatigue felt after the holidays, overeating that may have occurred, and even financial concerns after spending money on holiday gifts.

If you are feeling some of the holiday blues, focus on doing things to ease your anxious feelings and make yourself feel good. Drink extra water, get movement in every day, and create a schedule that you will enjoy.

If you are over tired, then allow for extra rest time and work on getting back to a set bedtime and wakeup ritual. If finances are a concern, make a budget for the next month or two with limited spending to help get back on track.

Think about what you have planned in the next few months. If you do not have anything you are looking forward to, consider scheduling something. Perhaps a visit with friends or family, a day trip, or an excursion to a museum. Add something to make the coming weeks feel more fun.

Ultimately, know that your feelings will pass with time. Remind yourself of that statistic of 64% of people who feel the holiday blues, know that you are not alone, and that your feelings are normal. If they do not pass, or your feelings are inhibiting you from your daily tasks, then reach out for help from a professional. You can always start by asking your primary care provider for an assessment and a referral, if needed.

The new year is finally here, spring is coming, and the days are getting longer. Whatever the holiday season meant to you, look forward now and take care of yourself in the best way you can.

Martha Shapiro can be reached at Senior Concerns at 805-497-0189 or by email at

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