Fighting The 'Post-Holiday Blues'

Dr. Tyler Ralston
Dr. Tyler Ralston

HONOLULU (KHNL) - With the New Year well under way, the holidays may seem like a distant memory. But after the celebrations have died down, some people may experience mental and physical exhaustion.

It's not an official diagnosis recognized by the mental health field, but for some people, the "post-holiday blues" can be common, following a season of ups and downs.

Shoppers packed malls during the holidays, but now, stores are a bit empty. And for some, the post-holiday season brings a similar feeling of emptiness inside.

"You can't sleep," said Alice Kauhane, a Maunalani Heights resident. "It gets you down. I'm not young anymore."

Symptoms for the "post-holiday blues" include changes in a person's routine.

"The main ones are generally a loss of pleasure in activities one used to enjoy prior the holidays," said Dr. Tyler Ralston, a clinical psychologist. "And also a loss of interest in a lot of activities that they used to enjoy."

He said a combination of subtle changes can trigger holiday-related stress.

"We often get less sleep, we often eat a lot more sugary foods, we're a lot busier, we're sitting in traffic more," said Dr. Ralston. "There's just a whole lot of stuff that can add up to stress and resulting in dipped mood or mild depression."

And not having family around during the holidays can also affect moods.

"Well, my children are away. I'm by myself," said Kauhane. "Very lonely. Very lonely."

Dr. Ralston said there are ways to reduce the risk of the post-holiday blues.

Before the holidays even start,

  1. Limit sugary foods.
  2. Limit alcohol consumption.
  3. Get regular exercise.
  4. Stay in touch with loved ones.

And a positive attitude can also help, a tip Alice Kauhane is already taking.

"I'm going to try to look for the best in life and hope that this year is a better year," she said.

Staying prepared and listening to your body: two ways towards a healthier and happier New Year.

About six percent of men, and ten percent of women suffer from some form of depression, according to the World Health Organization. Dr. Ralston also said if symptoms don't go away, it's important to seek professional help. Click on the link on this page to learn more from the Hawaii Psychological Association.