arthritis and post-holiday depression

Bust Post-Holiday Blues

For some people, the New Year isn’t a fresh start as much as it is a time of sadness.

“The holidays are such a wonderful time with so much to do, and in the New Year that all abruptly comes to an end,” says Margaret Wehrenberg, a psychologist in Naperville, Illinois. “It can have a profound impact on your mood.”

People prone to depression – including many with arthritis – may need a doctor’s help. But if you just feel post-holiday gloom, try these strategies.

Relive Memories

Frame holiday photos or wear the new sweater from your sister. “Taking time to appreciate the best-loved holiday memories will help offset sadness,” says psychologist Deborah Serani, PhD, in Smithtown, New York. A 2014 study in Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience found that people who were sad experienced improved mood when recalling happy memories.


During the excitement of the holidays, your body may produce extra cortisol and adrenaline, stress hormones that also lift your mood and energy. “By the time the holidays are over, all that cortisol and adrenaline leaves you feeling burned out, irritable and just plain cranky,” explains Serani. Go to bed early, indulge in a nap or take a day off to refuel.

Make Plans

After a season of socializing, the house might seem too quiet in the New Year. “The abrupt absence of activity can be depressing,” Wehrenberg says. Making plans to have coffee or see a movie with a friend gives you something to look forward to.

Get Moving

You don’t have to resolve to run a 5K, but prioritizing exercise is essential for beating the blues. Many studies have shown exercise can improve mood, even for people with arthritis or depression.

Show Gratitude

“Research says that an attitude of gratitude makes you happier and healthier,” Wehrenberg says. Expressing gratitude can reduce depressive symptoms, increase happiness and healthy behaviors and may improve physical health. She advises writing down three things you’re grateful for every day.


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