After the holidays: The big let-down – how to cope

It’s normal for adults and children to feel a let-down after the high powered pace of the holiday season.

The steady stream of holiday outings, decorations, visitors, expectations, out of the ordinary foods and disrupted sleep patterns is over! The “magic” of the season has been put back in boxes and reindeer way up north are no doubt quietly chewing their cud. Everything is back to normal. So what’s wrong with you? Are you feeling at odds with life in general? Does it feel like there is nothing special to look forward to? You’re in transition from the holiday season and what you are feeling is normal. The anticipation is over and while it may be a relief, many people experience a very real sense of “let-down.”

What can be done to feel better?

  • Relax, you’ve no doubt spent many hours and days filled with rushing around to complete a to-do list. Sit, nap, read, snuggle with your kids; watch a movie or go for a leisurely walk.
  • Return to your everyday schedule for meals and bedtimes.
  • Make good on that promise to Cousin Becky that you’ll sit down and write an old-fashioned letter, and make plans to keep in touch with other family members and friends you may only see during the holidays.
  • Continue the spirit of the season by donating your time and talents to a cause that you feel strong enough about to support.
  • Make notes regarding what you want to continue to plan for and what you may want to stop. Maybe you’d like to try something completely new next year, make a new family tradition. Now is the time to explore and plan.
  • Was entertaining the best part of the holidays? Plan a Super Bowl or a Valentine’s Day celebration to look forward to hosting with friends or just for your family.

Children can also feel the let-down. All children, regardless of their age will fare better if routines are re-established as soon as possible. Do you have a child protesting the un-decorating process? Is there one item from the tree they can keep in their room for a few days while transitioning?

Spending time talking about where your family went, who visited, how the dog reacted or the most special gift received is a way to help children transition and bring a sense of closure to a special and exciting time of the year. Your children’s perspectives may surprise and delight you; each family member/age group is aware of different aspects of gatherings. Include writing thank you notes not only to acknowledge their appreciation, but to signify the end of the season. Talk about the feelings each family member is experiencing and assure children that their feelings are not unusual. Michigan State University Extension provides one-time presentations as well as series on many social and emotional health topics; find an educator in your area at msue.msu.edu.

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