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2013-01-10

Second Opinion: Beat the post-holiday blues!

Lauren Langford, MD

Getting out of bed on January 2 is like going from 60 to zero in one day. The cheer, cooking, visitors, toys, shopping and rushing around of the past month are over. Now what?
The usual New Year's resolutions - lose 20 pounds, eat right, save money, spend more time with the family - have a way of fading by mid-January as reality sets back in. You go to work and facing you is a blank calendar and a million emails. Before you get that sinking feeling, think.
When it comes to getting back to normal after the holidays, remember that you are not a robot. After the holidays, people have the expectation that because they are supposed to be back at work, that everything is going to be normal. We are not machines. We do not have a button that we can just push that says "it's over."
Whether it is sadness over lingering family issues, or stress about the money you have spent, you might not feel like your typical self simply because the calendar says it is time. Give yourself a pass for a few days and do not feel annoyed or pressured if you do not feel 100 percent. You are more likely to get back there sooner if you are patient with yourself.
You spent months taking care of the house, the decorations, the guests, now you need to give a moment to think of yourself. We all may need a day of vegging out - not making a single decision - to get back to working order. If it takes a week to get to the thank you notes and pictures, so what?
It is also the time to eliminate all of those starchy holiday foods and candies. Push back from the goodies. Not only is it going to make your mind feel better, but it is going to give you more energy.
As you make an effort to return to a schedule, you should also pause for a moment or two and give yourself a break. Rest nourishes the body, soul, and mind. It is often hard to do, but it is essential to our wellbeing and performance. Set aside some time to unplug and recharge. Give thanks for the blessings in your life and do something for yourself that does not cost a cent - rest!
These are tips for people who don't need medical treatment. But if you feel like you are in more than just a mild post-holiday slump, you should talk to your doctor straight away.
Signs to be on the lookout for include thoughts about harming yourself or anyone else, inability to sleep, weight loss without trying or feeling really poorly about yourself. Seek professional help if you are experiencing any of these signs.