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Chasing the Post-Holiday Blues




"My mother loves the holidays and everything that comes with them. She looks forward to the decorations, visitors, presents, and food. It’s the period of time right after the holidays that I dread, because Mom becomes sullen and hopeless. Since she is home bound, her opportunities to schedule outside activities are limited to when and where I can take her.

Do you have any recommendations for how I can prevent this miserable time of year with my mother? I think we would both be happier if I could prevent her sadness." - READER




You are smart to plan for the post-holiday doldrums rather than wait for them to happen. Since you know this period of sadness is going to occur based on prior years, there’s no need to wait to resolve.

There are ways to address the situation and provide your mother with stimulation after the holidays that may keep her engaged and more content. Though it may take a bit of planning and the help of siblings and friends, it will be well worth the effort.

One caveat—seasonal depression is real, and it’s possible your mother suffers from it. Mention her melancholy at her next physician appointment. While she may just experience a bit of a letdown after the holidays, it could also be more. Keep a log of her mood to present at the next appointment, because the more information available, the easier the doctor can make a diagnosis.

For regular post-holiday blues, or cabin fever, as we like to call it in the north, here are a few suggestions:

  • Plan. Often, we put all of our energy into the year-end holidays and glide into the New Year, exhausted and with nothing planned. Boredom comes quickly on gray winter days. Establish a plan well before the holidays come.
  • Suggest to your siblings and your mom’s friends and neighbors that a great Christmas gift is the gift of time. Set up dates for them to stop by with tea, cookies, a game or puzzle and put these dates on your mother’s calendar.
  • Scan the local paper for events in your town and plan one a month if you can manage the outing.
  • Plan your time with her to also include projects that are purposeful and keep her busy. Knitting, baking, sewing or another activity done in service of others can be rewarding and give a sense of purpose.

These are just a few ideas that can make a dreary winter move quicker. December can be trying due to the weather and lack of daylight, but it can also be fun with cookies, conversation, laughter, family and anticipation. Try to keep that going throughout the entire month and well into January.

I wish you a joyous holiday season and a pleasant winter with mom.

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