The holiday season is undoubtedly full of excitement and celebration. Decorative lights seem to on every block and almost everyone around you seems significantly more cheery and considerate. But what happens when the fun is over? For some, coming down from such a happy season can be especially tough. If your partner happens to be struggling with something known as the post-holiday blues, there are things you can to help. We asked Wendi L. Dumbroff, a licensed professional counselor, to share her best-kept tips.
Come from a place of compassion.
This goes for how you treat your partner, but also for how you treat yourself. Just because you're not dealing with the post-holiday blues, is no reason for you to be the punching bag. You're dealing with them vicariously through your partner's struggles, which is why Dumbroff urges partners to acknowledge that the suffering impacts them as well. "Maybe you are missing them being present with you in the way they usually are, and you feel lonely," she says. "Being compassionate towards yourself will only serve to make you more available to be present for them in their struggle."
Don't try to fix things.
One of the most common and normal instincts when someone you love is hurting or upset is to try to do everything in your power to "fix" the situation. But sometimes there's really nothing you or anyone can do to remedy whatever is causing your loved one to feel down. A better solution is to listen to your partner in an attentive way. Though it sounds so simple, this can be very powerful, explains Dumbroff. "When you are 'listening to listen' rather than 'listening to respond,' people 'feel heard,'" she says. "Allow your partner's feelings to be there, hear their experience, validate them, and the simple act of just being with them in their pain is more than you can imagine."
Devise a plan ahead of time.
Since the holiday season usually involves being around family and friends more than any other time of year, many people's post-holiday blues can feel personal when you two settle back into everyday life as a couple. It's not that they don't enjoy being with you, but that it's tough to go from being surrounded by loved ones to returning to your regular routine. To help, plan a few fun activities that you two can look forward to.
Consider seeking professional help.
If necessary, the post-holiday season may be a good time to help your partner seek professional help, especially if you suspect there are larger issues at play than just the end of the celebrations. "If you see your partner really slipping into a dark place, helping them may include getting them professional help," says Dumbroff.