By David E. Hubler
Contributor, Online Career Tips
I’ve always thought of Thanksgiving as the prelude to the Christmas holiday season. Whether or not your office shuts down the day after Thanksgiving, the holiday prepares us well for what lies just a month ahead.
Over the years, the retail world has taken advantage of our overindulgence by anointing the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday. (Black as in “We’ll be in the black if we sell enough stuff before the end of the year, which is fast approaching.”)
Black Friday is an opportunity for millions of Americans to awake before dawn and mass at their favorite big box store. Then as soon as the doors open, in they all rush. It’s like the start of a marathon to grab as many items as they can at extraordinarily discounted prices.
Black Friday has become an all-American custom as deeply embedded in our culture as scoffing down excessive amounts of turkey and stuffing the day before and then turning into a couch potato to watch football games on TV.
Christmas this year falls on Wednesday, the run-up to which began even before Halloween. So, unless your firm observes Boxing Day on December 26, it’s back to work on Thursday. One week later, we go through the same exercise on New Year’s Day and back to work again on Thursday.
Short Holidays and Quick Return to Business Could Trigger Post-Holiday Blues
For many of us, these swift returns to business as usual can trigger a case of post-holiday blues.
JR Thorpe, a lifestyle writer for Bustle, says, “unsurprisingly, one response to this less twinkly and sugary time of the year is a widespread bout of misery – the post-holiday blues, as they’re called.”
Psychologically, she writes, the holiday season is “a mixed bag of crashing after a period of intense emotion and stress.” That mixed bag consists of “indulgence, adjustment to the return to work and the easy-to-understand sadness that comes when the good times are over.” A return to the workplace appears to be a big trigger, Thorpe adds.
In an almost sadistic twist of fate to make things worse, the New Year’s Day holiday is January 1. The 31-day mid-winter month of perpetual gloom can also trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is an emotional condition due to a lack of sunlight that only worsens the post-holiday blues. And February is no walk in the park either even though it’s the shortest month.
Post-Holiday Blues Are Not Serious Depression, But Are Widely Felt
However, as Thorpe notes, “Psychologists have a basic consensus about post-holiday blues: they’re not serious depression, but they do seem to be widely felt.”
Dr. Irena Milentijevic, a licensed psychologist, agrees. She says “returning to the usual routine, and a workplace that is probably quieter than normal, can dampen your spirits due to the absence of exciting things to do and look forward to.”
So “expecting to feel a little sad is a way to tell yourself that it is a normal feeling that will pass as soon as your routine re-establishes itself.” In addition, “If you are patient and accept your sadness, you are more likely to start feeling like yourself sooner.”
In a summary of her tips, Milentijevic advises:
- Expect to feel let down: Expecting to feel a little sad is a way to tell yourself that it is a normal feeling that will pass as soon as your routine re-establishes itself.
- Allow yourself a transition period: If you are patient and accept your sadness, you are more likely to start feeling like yourself sooner.
- Do not ignore your feelings of sadness: Feeling blue can actually be good for you. Research shows that mild to moderate doses of negative experiences are beneficial for growth and development.
- Find meaning: Involvement with family or work that one finds meaningful and purposeful is one of the most significant contributing factors of happiness.
- Go outside and get active: Increased physical activity is not only one of the best antidepressants and creator of good feelings, but it also helps prevent extra weight gain.
As Bill Amt of Iona Senior Services advises, “Remember there’s more to the year than just the span of Thanksgiving to New Year’s.” Thank goodness for that.