Post Holiday Blues

by | Dec 23, 2023 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

The winter holidays are magical! And then the festivities END. What do you do if you go from “visions of sugarplum fairies dancing in your head” to feelings of sadness and loneliness the very next day?

Let’s walk through the realities of the Post Holiday Blues and what you can do for yourself if this is a not so magical time.

According to a study from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about 64% of people who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition report feeling “alot” or “somewhat” worse during the holidays. How can it be that “the most wonderful time of the year” also delivers a sense of sadness, anxiety, and dissatisfaction among so many? And what can we do about it?

First, let’s get real about the not so magical parts of the season. After singing a bazillion Christmas songs, exchanging a few white elephant gifts, eating more than a dozen cookies, and laughing at the not so funny jokes of Uncle Dan… everything and everyone goes quiet and still.

It can feel daunting when you transition from the anticipatory excitement of gatherings, events, and a full calendar to a regular work week, bland meals, and everyday responsibilities like taking out the trash and doing the dishes.

When the morning after the rush of holidays comes, we may feel:

  • Anxious
  • Sad
  • Irritable
  • Lonely
  • Listless

It can feel even more intense after coming off of the emotional high of making or reliving past holiday moments. The differential between that holiday glow to the Post Holiday Blues can be vast. This just makes it hit so much harder for some. When the calendar clears out and you are back to the old routine, some of these feelings related to the Post Holiday Blues can pop up.


When things quiet down, you may start reflecting on recent events and happenings. As you reflect, feelings of anxiety can pop up. These feelings can be related to financial concerns, social/relationship worries, and returning to normalcy. Suddenly, the credit card bills come in or you realize that you overstretched your budget and don’t have money for the utility bills. You may also revisit interactions with others during the festivities and experience feelings of anxiety about conversations or actions of yourself or others. Anxiety can occur about returning to your previous routine, especially if you are returning to a job that was not previously satisfying or fulfilling.


After the hullabaloo of the season, you may feel overcome with sadness. This feeling can come from missing a loved one with whom you have shared past celebrations.  This can intensify if this absence is due to the death of a loved one and feelings of grief. Sadness can also be the result of realizing that the celebrations have ended. After months of anticipation of shared moments and memories in the making, you no longer have festive events on your calendar to look forward to. This can feel like a let down.


You have enjoyed every hectic moment of the reindeer run and as you sit in the afterglow you find yourself feeling increasingly irritable. Sometimes this irritation originates from reflecting on moments of disagreement with family and loved ones.  Also, there may be irritation with realizing that others are dismissive or seem entitled. There are times that irritability is actually masking feelings of sadness. If you find yourself feeling quick to anger and annoyance, you may be experiencing some Post Holiday Blues.


Suddenly, you go from dashing from one event to another, surrounded by new friends, old friends, and tons of family members (including those who know your name, but you don’t know theirs). It can be overwhelming and exhausting. As the joyous and rowdy events end, you find yourself sitting in the quiet with an empty family room and a Christmas Tree with a string of burnt out lights. In this stillness, you realize you are lonely. There is a sense of emptiness. You may have spent hours shopping, celebrating, volunteering, decorating, and cooking… and now it’s quiet. It can easily feel empty and lonely.


The holiday hustle is real and it can be all encompassing. When the hoopla ends, you may find yourself feeling like you need to be doing something, planning activities, or scheduling for the next celebration, but there is nothing to do, plan, or schedule. The rush of season can create an emotional high that you want to continue to experience. After it’s over and you are left with nothing to pour your energy into, you may feel an emptiness and listlessness. It is completely normal to feel like you need to be doing something with the residual energy of the holiday rush. Feeling listless can also create a sense of being ineffective or incomplete because you feel that you need to do stuff and things, but you aren’t… This is all part of the Post Holiday Blues.

How Do You Turn Your Blues Around?

Riding the emotional roller coaster during the holidays can be tough!  There are a few things you can do to help yourself!

  • Give Yourself Some Grace and Space
  • Engage in Self Care
  • Make Plans
  • Connect with Friends and Family
  • Keep a Routine
  • Use Healthy Boundaries

Give Yourself Grace and Space

Experiencing the Post Holiday Blues after the joy and high of the holidays can hit hard! You may feel like you need to quickly “get over it”. It is normal to not want to sit in the hard spaces. Instead of forcing yourself to feel better ASAP, give yourself a little time to honor your feelings. Your feelings are real and valid. Working to push away these feelings can potentially add stress and intensify the Post Holiday Blues. Give yourself grace and space in your emotions. Sometimes when you allow yourself the time to feel, you are able to process the feelings and efficiently move through them.

Engage in Self Care

When the Post Holiday Blues come around, you can help yourself out by taking a moment to engage in self care. Some ideas for self care include: exercise, have a sleep routine, eat healthy meals, and say nice things to yourself (affirmations). Take a moment to check in with yourself and prioritize you. In all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, you may have put your needs last. It is not selfish to choose to take care of yourself. It is self preservation to take care of you. When you take care of yourself, then you can more easily be present for others. Give yourself a little TLC, you are worth it!

Make Plans

Sometimes it can be hard to go from an over scheduled calendar to an empty calendar. Having something to look forward to on your schedule can be helpful. Consider scheduling a gathering with friends or a trip to a museum with a friend or an afternoon hike. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Allow yourself to keep it simple, especially after the celebratory chaos of the holiday season. The goal is to make plans and to look forward to something to do. Find something you enjoy and make plans!

Connect with Friends and Family

After numerous activities with friends and family, it can be hard to have the abrupt stop after the holidays. While you may not want to have the abundance of interactions that come with the season, you can benefit from maintaining connections with loved ones. So, pick up the phone, send the text, mail a card, and reach out. Fostering our connections with loved ones can help heal your heart during the Post Holiday Blues.

Keep a Routine

You may not feel motivated to keep a routine after dashing through the holiday season, however it can help! Keeping a routine even during the holiday hustle can reduce the impact of the Post Holiday Blues. Your routine can include a regular sleep schedule, engaging in an exercise routine, eating meals at the usual times. It may be easier said than done, however maintaining at least pieces of your usual routine can be beneficial as you transition from rocking around the Christmas Tree to work, laundry, and microwave meals.

Use Healthy Boundaries

It can be hard to say no and manage expectations during the holiday season. In trying to please everyone, saying no can feel unkind. In an effort to reduce the impact of the Post Holiday Blues, you may want to try to examine expectations for yourself and for others. Prioritize events and acknowledge that not everyone (including you) will be able to or want to participate in every single activity from brunch, sledding, white elephant gift exchanges, ice skating, cookie exchanges, and more. It’s okay to say no and increase your ability to be present. You will be able to enjoy the activities that you choose. Have conversations with loved ones about navigating the requirements for the holidays. In managing the expectations during the holidays, you can reduce the impact of the Post Holiday Blues.

While the holidays can be magical for many, the days after can be hard. Take a moment and be intentional in trying to help yourself in your blues. It may be easier said than done, however you are worth the effort. Give these ideas a try and you can say goodbye to the Post Holiday Blues!

You are not alone in the feelings of disappointment, anxiety, and sadness once the holiday hustle ends. If you have tried some of these ideas to help yourself, and you are still struggling with your mood, feeling unmotivated, or experiencing an emptiness, you may benefit from seeking additional support from a professional therapist. Some of these feelings are shared within other clinical diagnoses, including clinical depression or generalized anxiety disorder. The holidays can exacerbate pre-existing situations. It’s okay to reach out for extra help. You are not alone and you don’t have to do it all alone. 


About the Author- Kathy Davis, LMSW

Kathy Davis, LMSW provides virtual therapy at Resolve Counseling in Texas. She works with families, children, teens, and adults providing online therapy for anxiety, depression, grief, and trauma.