Managing Depression During Winter

How nail techs can battle the January blues

Feeling down from the holidays?

Nail pros have to balance socializing, shopping and cooking with multiple appointments. Salons enjoy a boost in revenue thanks to all the social events that clients attend. The holiday season is one of the most lucrative times of the year. When January comes and the pace of life slows, bookings, socializing, and gatherings may drop, as can our mood. “I’m sad because my vacation is over,” said nail technician Haylee Landgridge from Sherwood Park in Alberta, Canada. Landgridge, and many other people who experience the same feelings after a hectic holiday season, have a name for it: post-holiday depression (or post-holiday disorder). Post-holiday depression is treatable and relatively short-lived, as long as you know the triggers.

The Highs and the Lows


Experts say that this depression is caused by the “contrast effect” – a tendency to compare a situation to another situation and mentally uplift or downgrade it. The holidays can be a time of joy, with more people shopping, spending time with family and friends, and listening to happy music. “Contrast that with the weeks following the holidays. We’re back to normal, the sparkle is gone from our homes and shops, and our income is often quickly declining once the holiday rush is over.”


The Triggers

Holiday excitement can bring with it many factors that may contribute to depression. “Having unrealistic expectations is, in general, the number one cause of post-holiday depression,” says Deborah Serani, PsyD. Professor at Adelphi University. Deborah Serani is a professor at Adelphi University. She says that the most common cause of post-holiday depressive episodes is unrealistic expectations. Adults who do not budget their time and spend too much money on gifts or say “yes” to too many celebrations, as well as those who work too hard and try to achieve perfection during the holidays, are at greater risk of experiencing post-holiday depressive disorders. Dr. Serani explains that going from 100 mph to zero can lead to feelings of loneliness and burnout.

The holidays can also bring up mixed emotions, both positive and negative, that can carry over into the new year. Serani says that if your expectations for the holidays with friends and family were not met, you may have to deal now with an emotional letdown. Sherrie Campbell PhD, author and clinical psychologist of But It’s Your Family – Cutting Ties with Toxic Family members, explains that despite how stressful family gatherings are, when they’re over we suffer more. She says that while it may be a relief to see them go, you might also feel a sense of guilt or anxiety about the negative experiences with toxic family members.

But some triggers of post-holidays syndrome are not as easy to control. The stress hormones cortisol, and adrenaline can be triggered by a busy schedule. Dr. Serani says that these chemicals help you to meet the demands of your clients, but they can also take their toll on your health. She admits that when your schedule returns to normal, you may feel physically exhausted and even sad. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a feeling of sadness that can be brought on by the weather. It’s especially cold and gloomy in January. This disrupts our circadian clock and compounds the problem.

Identification of the symptoms

How can you tell if you are experiencing post-holidays syndrome with all these triggers? Dr. Campbell says that common symptoms include a loss in interest in activities you once enjoyed, an isolation from friends, a change in sleep or activity patterns, and a lack in appetite. Ask yourself if your mood is more negative, irritable, or sad. Assess your anxiety level. Thomas explains that depression and anxiety are often linked, and holiday stress can cause either or both symptoms.

How to Beat the Post-Holiday Blues

Self-work can help alleviate the symptoms of the post-holiday syndrome. Prioritize self-care during this season. Dr. Serani recommends that you “say no when you are able, delegate when not able to and maintain realistic expectations as to what you can do and cannot.” You should also plan ahead financially. Langridge says that she saves a part of her income in busy months to have money for January.


Relaxation and sleep can help you combat fatigue and slow down the production of adrenaline and cortisol. Schedule a pajama-day when you are not at work.

She says she takes a few days off when she returns from her vacation. This gives me the time to unpack and visit family. I can also prepare for my week ahead, as well as catch up on some sleep. Dr. Serani says that moving your body for at least 15 minutes a day can help you get rid of excess cortisol and adrenaline, which prevents you from sleeping well or relaxing.


Above all else, be kind to you. Thomas says that being gentle and compassionate with yourself is important after a busy holiday season. The way we talk to ourselves can either help us or hinder our ability get out of any depression that may have been caused by the holidays. It’s important to allow ourselves to admit that we are tired and feeling lower than usual. It is important to adjust our expectations for a couple of weeks after the holidays. This will reduce the chances that depression will persist.

When to Get Help

Visit a professional if your depression persists despite all your efforts to self-care for at least two weeks. Serani advises anyone with depression symptoms to seek out a mental health professional for an assessment. According to Dr. Campbell’s advice, depending on the severity and duration of depression symptoms, treatment may include medication, psychotherapy or both.

Post-Holiday Syndrome Facts*

  • A survey by the American Psychology Association (APA), 38% of respondents reported an increase in stress over the holiday season.
  • Lack of time and money are the top post-holiday factors of stress. Other top factors include being with family, commercialism, gift-giving pressures, and lack of free time.
  • Seasonal affective disorder is another cause of winter blues. This seasonal depression usually begins in the late fall and disappears in early spring.
  • More than 300 millions people worldwide suffer from depression.

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