So very many people experience loneliness over the holidays and others struggle with perfectionism and stress, trying to make sure everyone is having a good time and trying to take responsibility for things outside of their control. But, now that the holidays are over, many people struggle with the letdown. It seems funny for people to go through this: We should be glad the stressful part is over, but that is not always how it is.
For people who live with ongoing depressed feelings, stress can be a good distractor. Oftentimes, people create drama, not even being consciously aware of it, in order to avoid being alone with their own thoughts. They describe a feeling of emptiness that they fear, not yet understanding that this quiet is the path to insight and peace. Others live with constant anxiety, and while the holidays can make this worse, they do enable people to externalize the anxiety. Once the excitement is over there is often a feeling of unease, as they then go back to their usual state. This is why the time right after the holidays is often a busy time for therapists.
It has been said, and it is true, that a crisis can be an opportunity for growth. While no one would willingly go through a crisis, when one gets help for issues that are usually ignored, those issues often disappear. A similar thing can be said for the holidays. Whether the holidays were generally happy or sad, when the external excitement has died down, going back to the usual level of internal noise or quiet can be disconcerting for many people. Instead of panicking, it is possible to know that this is the normal state of affairs, and that just like with a crisis, seeking help for those issues that speak to us in the quiet, instead of trying to once more drown them out, can be an extremely powerful thing to do. Whether the holidays were “good” or “bad” for someone, the after holidays “blahs” can be a wonderful opportunity to listen to our own feelings and to grow and become stronger.
Aleta Edwards, Psy.D.
I am a psychotherapist in private practice, with a strong interest in shame and perfectionism. I will periodically post my thoughts about these topics and other observations relating to emotional health.