While the holidays are often joyous and busy, the end of the holiday season can be a difficult time of year. A survey revealed that 64% of people experience post-holiday blues. Often, coming down from the excitement and stress of the holiday season leads to feeling tired, sad or blue—much like depression.
Depression, however, is a serious mood disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons, is most commonly present in the winter. Both are common for older adults and treatable with the help of a health care professional.
Post-holiday blues, unlike depression, are temporary and often remediable on your own. Here are six simple steps for curing your post-holiday blues:
Stick to Your Routine. Sticking to a routine is good for your mental health year-round and especially important when feeling blue. Make a checklist of your daily schedule so you remember your routine during this time of year when it becomes very easy to lose structure.
Calendars are great for mental health because they help keep us on schedule. Be sure to note on your calendar important things, including the times of day when you take medication.
Get the Right Amount of Rest. Not getting enough sleep can lead to feelings of depression and the blues, but on the other hand, oversleeping is not good for your mental health either. It’s all about balance. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night is the right amount for older adults. Sleep can help regulate a lot of systems within your body, including your emotions, metabolism, and cognitive function.
Consistency can help ensure that you’re obtaining the right amount of sleep your body needs to function at its highest levels during the winter months. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each morning and night can help when you are experiencing the blues.
Eat Well. Not only does food nourish us but eating well can also change our mood.
Start your days off right with a healthy breakfast, including foods such as avocado toast or fortified whole-grain cereal. Avocados are high in monounsaturated or “good” fat, and full of tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, which boosts moods. Fortified whole-grain cereal contains vitamin D. Vitamin D assists your body in absorbing calcium, which is important for healthy bones; vitamin D also may improve cognitive health.
The reason people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day is that eating within an hour of waking up brings your blood sugar up after it drops naturally while sleeping. Maintaining balanced blood sugar throughout the day is good for your disposition.
Get Outside. Being in nature can be incredibly positive for your mental health. A change of scenery and exercise are important for your well-being, and the sunlight is packed with vitamin D. Although the daylight hours are significantly shorter during the winter months, and the weather is typically colder, it’s still just as imperative to spend time outside. As little as 20 minutes outside can reduce your stress. Simply remember to bundle up as the weather in your area might require.
Take Up a New Hobby. Once the holidays end, you may find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. A silver lining of the post-holiday season is that you can take up a new hobby to improve your mood.
Many of the most common hobbies are perfect for older adults, including reading, bird watching, crafting and photography, but there’s plenty of room for inserting your own interests on this list. Not only are they fun, but hobbies can also fight off the blues.
Reach Out for Help. If you are struggling to boost your mood on your own, a friend, loved one, health care professional, or caregiver might be able to help. It can be difficult to ask for assistance, but when it comes to our mental health, it’s vital to do so.
Tell someone if you’ve been feeling blue and get their thoughts on what else might lift your spirits. In no time, you’ll be feeling more like yourself again.