How to deal with a post-holiday slump

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The holidays are always a great time. Spending time with friends and family, gifts to be given and received, and good food to be shared. For some, it’s a chance to head home after a long semester.

On the other hand, the return after the holidays can be rough, with the rush of demands that come with a return to normal student life. Some people can fall into a “post-holiday slump,” as RSW and Psychotherapist Jared Dalton put it. Dalton runs Blueprint Counseling, which focuses on student mental health.

A slump is normal, as the switch from loads of free time back to the busy and stressful life of a young adult is difficult. But according to Dalton, there is concern if it starts to worsen.

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“You don’t want to hang out with your friends, you don’t want to play sports, you don’t want to play video games, less interested in food, less interested in sex, struggling to sleep. Those are signs that maybe it’s more of a clinical depression than just like a post-holiday slump.”

Clinical depression does start with a trigger, Dalton said. For some, the trigger may be the return to normal life post-holiday season.

“If it’s interfering with your life in a way that you just can’t enjoy life anymore? That’s when you want to talk to somebody about it.”

On top of the student responsibilities, Dalton added that the weather is also a factor in mental health.

“By January, we’re pretty much over with winter, like we’re done with it, and we still have to deal with it for a few more months.”

So how can you manage a January slump?


This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s true. Activities you enjoy doing will release dopamine, one of the two chemicals you need to help get you out of your slump. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that influences how pleasure affects the brain.

The other chemical that is crucial to kicking the slump is serotonin, which comes from doing things with a sense of achievement. Serotonin influences learning, memory, and your happiness. Both these chemicals are key to positive mental health.

“They’re just gonna give you a boost in terms of your self-esteem, feeling like you’re good at things, and just feeling like you’re contributing meaningfully to your community,” Dalton said.


Just because the holidays are over doesn’t mean you have to isolate yourself. It can be easy to want to close yourself off from the world when feeling depressed. Social interaction can help give you a boost to get out of your slump.

It’s also important to have social support from friends and loved ones. This may be someone you can reach out to when feeling down, need a second opinion on things, or just someone to hang out with.


Vitamin D may help regulate mood and can reduce depression and anxiety. Many Canadians actually have a slight deficiency in vitamin D, according to Statistics Canada, and the winter months only make getting the nutrient harder.

In order to combat this deficiency, you can eat foods that are rich in vitamin D, like fish and eggs. Getting outside on the rare sunny day is recommended as well. You could take a vitamin D supplement, though you should consult your doctor beforehand.

Dalton explained how winter can be hard on mental health.

“The lack of sunlight we experience in the winter is actually a real problem for our health and mental health. And it starts to hit us really hard in January.”


I think no one would argue that it’s been a rough few years. There’s nothing wrong with needing a break from life once in a while. As Dalton put it, “you need to be compassionate with yourself.”

“Talk nicely to yourself in terms of self-talk. And to make sure you take care of your body, sleeping well, eating well, and drinking well.”

Realize that sometimes things can be too much, that it’s okay to admit that, and that you can ask for help. If you do think your slump may be going on a little too long, it may be time to contact a professional for some help.

As you return from the holidays, don’t worry if you fall into a rut. It’s a normal thing to feel somewhat down when going back to normal life after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Being a young adult is difficult and no one will blame you for having a hard time leaving the good times of winter break behind.

Remember to take care of yourself, find something enjoyable to do, and reach out for help if you need it.