Are You Experiencing a Happiness Hangover?

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Throughout the month of December and most of November, Paige has been plotting her holiday: from gifts to buy, meals to prepare, and parties to host and attend. While her in-laws do drive her crazy when they stay so long (“I mean, 6 nights is too much,” she thinks), she really did enjoy spending time with family and friends. She’s glad to have more time now, but she also misses the festivities and merriness of the holidays.

Can you relate?

With the holidays over (or almost over), some people are thrilled (“Yay, that’s all over; back to normal life!”).

Others, though, like Paige, are feeling a little down in the dumps, with the sentiment “that’s over, now what?!” floating through their minds.

This latter group may be experiencing a “happiness hangover.” It is caused by the end of a positive event that you have been excitedly anticipating.

Happiness hangovers are not unique to the holidays. In fact, they can occur whenever a positive event is over.

Don't use technology as an emotional pacifier. Media can be very effective in keeping kids calm and quiet, but it should not be the only way they learn to calm down. Children need to be taught how to identify and handle strong emotions, come up with activities to manage boredom, or calm down through breathing, talking about ways to solve the problem, and finding other strategies for channeling emotions.

Examples of precursors to happiness hangover can include:

  • Holidays
  • A vacation
  • Retirement
  • Your wedding
  • Having a baby
  • Graduation
  • A big party or event
  • A great weekend
  • Completing major project
  • A major race

Why does it happen?

You have been focused, concentrating your mental and physical energy on the event- the planning, the details, the work to make it happen, to make it a success. You have been looking forward to the ultimate event and then… it’s over.

How do you know if you are dealing with a happiness hangover? Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling down
  • Low energy
  • Feeling tired
  • Loneliness (even if you are not alone)
  • The sense of “now what?”
  • Loss of purpose

So, why does this happen? Well, we are hardwired to work towards a goal. And planning and engaging in fun and/or meaningful activities is rewarding to us. When those events are over, we can feel let down.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to recover from a happiness hangover. Here are three tips you can try:

Be grateful

Gratitude is a powerful force that can help you shift your energy from lack to love. In my book A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness, I ask the following question to help prompt gratitude: “If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you miss most about today?” So often, it is not until something is gone that we really realize how important it was to us.

"There is only one pretty child in the world, and every mother has it."- Chinese Proverb

So try this: write out three things, people or experiences that you appreciate and then let yourself really experience the gratitude.

Relive

The event may be over, but the memories are there forever (or at least until you develop dementia). So relive them in your mind. Daydream about the laughter you had over the holiday meal, that beach vacation where you watched the sunrise, crossing the finish line.

Check out this interview of me on The Today Show where we talk about this strategy.

Create a new focus

While I am not suggesting you jump right into another project without really enjoying your precious accomplishment, having something to look forward to can be a powerful antidote to the happiness hangover.

Want more info about happiness hangovers? Check out my interview on Fox & Friends .

You can beat this and move on.