Coping With Post Holiday Letdown

By Denise S. Pott, LCSW
Assistance Home Care

My friends and I were talking the other day about what we liked most about the holidays. “The store windows are lit up and decorated.” “Listening to Christmas Carols.” “Buying gifts for people I care about.” “Surprising my grandchildren.” I would add “Getting together with friends and family”, “The smell of holiday baking”, “The sound of logs crackling in the fireplace.”

Anticipating, preparing for, and celebrating the holidays takes up a big part of the month of December, culminating in a big New Year’s Eve bash on December 31st. Then, suddenly, it’s all over! January seems to drag on forever, with its gray days and the return to familiar routines. No doubt about it, the holidays are a tough act to follow. Post holiday letdown affects nearly everyone in some way, and can be especially difficult for older adults. Loneliness can be a real problem for those who live alone and have fewer opportunities to socialize. Knowing that this is the case gives us the opportunity to change things! There are things we can do to help to lessen the letdown after the holidays for yourself and your loved ones. While January will never have the same charm as December, it doesn’t have to be a low point……

Here are some dos and don’ts to make January something we can all look forward to:
Don’t put away the lights and other festive trappings right away just because the calendar flipped a page. The stores may start thinking about the next holiday, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Take your time with un-decorating. Let the holidays linger a little, but set up a time to help your older relatives put away their decorations…..just don’t let it go for too long—no one wants to see a Christmas tree on the Fourth of July!

Don’t let the weather keep you down. Even though we live in a cold climate, try to spend some time outdoors and get as much sunshine as you can. Sometimes just going for a drive on a sunny day can lift your spirits; take an older adult along for the ride!
Make some festive meals. The holidays may be over but the partying doesn’t have to be. Prepare something special and have some friends over. What’s the occasion? Invent one. Have a “game night”, or a “finally cleared out the basement” celebration. Plan to share a meal or dessert with an older adult at your home or theirs.

Stay connected. Don’t let those holiday gatherings with cherished friends slip away till next year. If you can’t get together physically, stay in touch by mail or email. To keep older adults connected, offer to help them learn how to email, or teach them how to stay in touch via “Skype”. This is a great activity for high school or college students with time on their hands during break, and a way for them to connect with seniors. Get together with the friends and loved ones that you didn’t get to see during the holidays. Make plans to get together sooner rather than later.

Lend a helping hand. Volunteer opportunities abound, and not just around the holidays. Besides doing good, this effort offers a great connection to your community, enables you to socialize and network, and kindles happiness. Don’t forget to check on your elderly or disabled neighbors. Ask if they need you to pick up groceries, or take their mail or newspapers to the door. During bad weather, see if they need a path cleared of snow and do it yourself of help find someone who can. You’ll have a great feeling just knowing that you’re helping.

If you live some distance away and visiting isn’t an option, help to ease the post holiday letdown for older adults by looking into the activities and services that may be available in their community and helping them to connect. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging to learn about what’s available, or make arrangements for a friendly visitor through a church community or volunteer. Let them know that they can arrange for a companion to assist them at home or to help them get out into the community by contacting a non-medical home care agency such as Assistance Home Care.

While none of this might cause you to say, “Wow, I’m sure glad the holidays are over so we can look forward to January!”, these ideas can help to alleviate your post holiday letdown and brighten the lives of older adults as well. Here’s to a Happy and Healthy 2017!!

If you know an older adult who would benefit from companionship or assistance in the home, Assistance Home Care can help. For More Information visit our website at www.assistanceathome.com. Or call at one of our area offices: St. Louis 314-631-1989; St. Charles 636-724-4357; West County 636-200-2909.