Five Tips for Surviving the Small-House, Post-Holiday Blues

To our readers who celebrate this time of year, we hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family and friends.

Now that Christmas is over, there's something we want to talk to you all about. It's something that we struggle with, and I'm sure many of you do as well:

Post-Holiday Depression

The post-holiday blues are pretty widespread: I'm sure many of us who celebrate this season experience this feeling of depression to some degree this time of year. After all of the hustle and bustle and anticipation of the holidays, when everything seems so magical, it's hard to jump right back into the doldrums of everyday life. It's especially hard for those of us in the northern hemisphere with a dark and dreary winter staring us down.

Much of this is even more pronounced for small-home dwellers. On top of the normal post-holiday letdown, we are often dealing with the aftermath of generous gift giving and the stress of finding room for new items that have entered our homes. And winter is just hard in a tiny house. With the outdoors as our second living room, cabin fever sets in quickly in the cold, rainy months of Pacific Northwest life.

If you need some ideas for how to work your way through post-holiday depression, here are some of our best tricks for beating those winter blues.

1. Plan something fun

After all of the anticipation of the holiday season, it can be very hard to suddenly have nothing to really look forward to in the coming days. This is often a great time to start planning for a summer vacation or a fun family outing. We have January and February birthdays at our house, so getting into party-planning mode is a helpful distraction from the winter doldrums. If you don't have a birthday to celebrate, plan to have a few friends over for dinner in a few weeks. Giving yourself something new to anticipate may be enough to help snap you our of the post-holiday blues.

2. Get out of the house

I don't always follow my own advice, but I know from experience that getting out of the house is often a huge pick-me-up, even for would-be hermits like myself. (Maybe even especially for people like me.) Getting some fresh air and forcing yourself to focus on something outside of your normal four walls can be very therapeutic when cabin fever starts to set in for the winter. Go see a movie or get a coffee or even just go grocery shopping. Take the kids to the library or a children's museum or indoor playground. If the weather is nice, put on your long underwear and bring your parkas and go play at the park or visit the zoo. Try out a new restaurant or hit up an old favorite. Anything you can do to get out of the house will likely lift your mood.

3. Take some extra time for yourself

If you're like most parents at Christmastime, you probably knocked yourself out making Christmas happen for your family. All of the details to remember and presents to buy and wrap and yummy food to make and parties to attend can leave anyone feeling drained once the festivities are over. I certainly crashed after it was all over. If you can manage it, taking a little time for yourself is warranted. Ask your partner to take the kids to town for a couple hours one day (and return the favor!), or go out for a while by yourself while everyone else stays home or does other things. If it takes you a little while to catch up with chores or laundry or putting all of the new toys away, that's okay. It will all still be there when you get back.

4. Get organized

It can be hard to relax in a cluttered home, so if you can't bring yourself to look the other direction while you regain your footing after the holidays, go ahead and tackle that mess. If you can pass along a few of your older belongings that you no longer need or want, do that. If you love your aunt, but hate the gift she gave you, it's okay to pass it along. As Marie Kondo says, the gift has already served it's purpose anyway. Try not to just keep reorganizing in the hope that you'll magically be able to fit it all in; that is just delaying the problem and probably won't do much to relieve your stress anyway. Bonus tip: try doing a pre-holiday purge next year so you don't have to worry as much about finding room for new items after the holidays are over.

5. Let yourself be sad (for a little while) and get help if you need it

Pretending that you're not sad when Christmas is over isn't helpful. Acknowledging that feeling of letdown and allowing yourself to move through it is probably going to be a better way to deal with the post-holiday blues than pretending they don't exist. And if your blues linger or seem more pronounced than is reasonable, or if you start to have thoughts of self-harm, please consult a licensed professional right away to help you find ways to cope. Especially in the Pacific Northwest where the sun disappears for weeks at a time, depression during the winter months is common, and there is no shame in struggling and needing help this (or any) time of the year.

We hope that the joy of Christmas continues to follow you into the new year, but if you are struggling, try one of these ideas to help you land back on your feet once the holidays are over. You might just find something new to enjoy and look forward to in the days to come.