By Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C
This year has been different than any year we have ever experienced. Lack of travel, small holiday celebrations, and virtual holiday parties for some may have been a positive change and a difficult change for others. In prior years, it was very normal for some people to have a difficult time getting back into the swing of things after the holidays, and very normal to experience the post holiday blues. After months of preparation, stuffing yourself on holiday food, stress, excitement, and the adrenaline rush, decompressing from the holidays can take time. With Covid-19 we are left with a host of new emotions that will differ from person to person. Thoughts of how you will manage the post holiday blues with the pandemic, colder weather, shorter days, and lack of contact with others may feel overwhelming. Symptoms of the post holiday blues during the pandemic might include feeling down, procrastination, under the weather, lack of motivation, etc.
Here are tips to help overcome the holiday blues and help you through the winter:
- Identify what you appreciate most in your life today. Each day, preferably in the morning, ask yourself what you appreciate in your life. Write down 3 things. When there are so many things to be concerned about it helps to ground yourself and keeping a gratitude journal can be really helpful.
- Reframe referring to January and February as cold and dreary. Yes, it is cold but calling it dreary just sets you up to feel dreary. Projecting negativity onto something just brings it to life as negative. There are beautiful sunny days in the winter, so put on a coat, get outside and enjoy them. Look around and find 3 things that you find beautiful.
- Allow the adrenaline to settle. Holidays bring on a lot of adrenaline, especially this year. Planning how you will stay safe and celebrate, the rush to get things done, planning virtual holiday parties, cooking, etc. all keep our adrenaline high. After the holidays all that adrenaline has to settle down, so have a self-care plan to help you decompress. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Read a book, have some tea, exercise, see a movie, or get outside.
- When I was a kid, my mom used to say, “I need a vacation from my vacation.” I never understood that until I had kids. If you did travel, build in time to settle in. The time you need might be a day or several days depending on your trip. I highly recommend not coming back from vacation and immediately going back to work the next day. You won’t feel like you have been away and will start off tired, feeling like you can’t catch up.
- Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water. Holidays are full of unhealthy, although good, food, alcohol, and lack of sleep. If you feel sluggish this could be due to dehydration.
- Avoid stimulants and alcohol. When we are tired we often want a quick fix, so we might increase caffeine, sugar, alcohol or other drugs. This actually makes things worse by not allowing your body to naturally adjust. That is not sustainable and only provides a short-lived comfort. If you notice that you often look for a quick fix, talk with the Lawyer Assistance Program or another professional to get help.
- Learn to say, “No”. Follow my 24 hour rule. Give yourself 24 hours, before you say yes to something new and to think about whether you can commit to taking it on. This gives you time to take a step back and look at the pros and cons of taking on another commitment.
- Pay attention to what is going on now. Focusing on the past can make you feel depressed, while focusing on the future can bump up your anxiety. Try to focus on now, what you are doing right now and how you feel. Don’t dwell on the feelings; just notice them. Focus on your breathing without trying to change it, and bring yourself back to what you are doing at the moment whenever you catch yourself in the past or future.
- Make changes. Look at what you enjoyed over the holidays and build it into your everyday life. Put it on your calendar. Post holiday is a great time to take things off your plate that you really don’t want to do. Look at what is working for you and what is not and make some healthy changes.
- Live with intent. Make active decisions and choices in your life.
- Talk about your feelings. Talk with someone who is supportive about how you feel. Sometimes just saying it out loud can be a huge help.
- Start journaling. Getting it out of your head and into a journal can be very therapeutic.
- Talk to a professional. If the post holiday blues persist call the Lawyer Assistance Program or other professional to discuss how you feel. Sometimes talking with someone who is objective can help.
For more tips on wellness check out the Wellness Portal https://www.msba.org/wellness-portal/
For assistance, please contact the Lawyer Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling. We have a network of counselors that can assist you no matter what state you live in. Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C, Director, (443) 703-3042, firstname.lastname@example.org.Toll Free 1(888) 388-5459. We offer financial assistance for mental health and substance abuse treatment. Please feel free to reach out to our LAP Committee Members and Volunteers https://www.msba.org/health-and-wellness/
Lisa Caplan, LCSW-C has over 25 years experience in her field, and extensive experience working with lawyers and judges in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and trauma. In her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, paddle boarding, sailing, rock climbing and doing triathlons.