January 5, 2005 | By: Aimee Heald-Nielson

Most people look forward to holiday activities including all the parties, decorations, food and family time. Sometimes though, when the hustle and bustle is over, people are left feeling blue.

“An event or series of events that take a lot of time and energy, leave people feeling relieved and let down once the event has passed and the holidays are no exception,” said Doug Burnham, University of Kentucky Extension health specialist. “As the holidays come to a close, family members may be returning to homes far away; decorations must be packed away; the children are restless. It may seem like the balloon has popped. Many times people end up feeling bleak and sad.”

Burnham said the good news is that people can get through those feelings and prolong the festive, warm feelings of the holidays while readjusting to everyday routines. His suggestions may even help those who are not prone to post-holiday blues manage everyday stress.

“Get ample rest but be careful not to overdo it as too much can cause sluggishness,” he said. “Get involved in a variety of physical activities. People often do more sitting and eating during the holidays than other times and it’s easy to continue that pattern. Enjoy the ‘re-nesting’ process. Put away all the holiday ‘clutter’ and re-establish control over your space.”

If overeating during the holidays caused weight gain, Burnham recommends setting realistic goals to lose the extra pounds. Losing two or three pounds a month is pretty reasonable. Walking, bicycling, jogging, or calisthenics can help burn calories and provide energy.

“Diversify your interests,” he said. “Most of us have to put so much time, money and resources into the holidays that we need new challenges. This may mean becoming involved in a community organization whose goals and activities you support. Involving yourself in community service may continue to nurture the pleasant feelings of the holidays.”

Burnham also recommends reviving old hobbies or interests as a way to fill the gap of activities after the holidays. Some may enjoy taking walks, visiting historic places, watching birds eat from an outdoor feeder or simply watching snowflakes fall.

“You need to plan beyond the holidays,” he said. “Plan activities that you can begin to look forward to in the future.”

Some post-holiday stress may stem from overextending an already tight budget. Developing a plan to pay the bills will help rid some of the stress that comes from worrying about finances.
One of the most helpful ways to cope with post-holiday blues may be to visit friends regularly, and avoid being house bound, Burnham said. 

“When you visit, make a point of listening to them and sharing concerns, joys and successes,” he said. “You and your friends can enjoy time together more during the relaxed post-holiday time than during the hectic pace of the holidays.” 

Burnham is an Extension health specialist for the UK College of Agriculture Health Education through Extension Leadership (HEEL) Program and the UK College of Social Work.

HEEL serves as a catalyst for change by bridging people, resources, ideas, and actions, using the unique model of the land grant system of outreach and education combined with university-based research and formal collaborations with long term partnerships. The HEEL program creates innovative strategies for improving health outcomes and reducing the burden of chronic disease for all Kentuckians at the local, regional, and state levels.



Writer: Aimee D. Nielson 859-257-4736, ext. 267
Contact: Doug Burnham 859-257-4785