Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

The After-Holiday Letdown

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Dec 26, 2013 7:44 PM

The bulk of the holiday hubbub dissipates after the feasting, giving, taking and family time of the Christmas ends. Moving on to New Year's eve from here is relatively mild in light of all the shopping, card-sending, caroling, cooking and singing which led up to December 25. Then, for the church-goers, the relief includes the successful (hopefully) completion of the pageant,communal dinners, chorale, sermon, or service. Most parties, thrown or attended, may be over. Even the music all around you will revert to its original types.

You are now free, again. Time to relax and go back to enjoying your routine of work, ordinary chores, normal social life, uninterrupted TV series, etc.. So, why do you experience a sense of emptiness, loss, even grief, rather than simply feeling great about destressing? It's a letdown common to lots of major life events, from the Bar Mitzvah to the birth of a baby to the 50th anniversary party or trip.

The build-up is exciting, stressful in a good and not-so-good way, and sometimes downright manic. Even the disappointment of comparisons with happier people and the traumatic memories and wishes around alienated family and the consequenses of bad choices brings on a kind of enhanced mental activity , however negative. There's a biological component to the letdown, much like the cycles of mildly bipolar types (called cyclothymic or cycle of feeling), in that the adrenalin and other chemicals involved in the build-up dissipate in the aftermath, leaving room for less exciting, happy chemicals. The antidote to letdown? Mainly, relaxation, happy or putting a positive spin on memories, gratitude, forgiveness (if appropriate), and optimism--all thought choices--just like the formula for life happiness, in general.

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