Even if you’re lucky enough not to be affected you may well know someone who’s feeling ill or low as soon as Christmas is over.  They may come down with a bug or even become slightly depressed.  But why would that be?

Felling ill after Christmas

There are two main reasons for this.  The most obvious is that we tend to be in much closer contact with other people, and warm houses and shops can be a breeding ground for viruses

The second reason is that high levels of stress result in higher levels of cortisol in our bodies.  Higher cortisol levels in turn lower our resistance to illness and infections.  The pre-Christmas rush can carry us through, but the slump after Christmas can see us allow ourselves to be ill at last.  Add in the fact that a cold or flu bag can take up to 72 hours to show themselves, and you have the perfect environment for illness to catch up with us after Christmas.

Feeling low after Christmas

There are three main reasons for low mood after Christmas

Unmet and unrealistic expectations.  People feel that they should have the perfect Christmas, and find the inevitable gap between unachievable expectation and reality a real problem.  Better instead, as ever with Christmas, to aim for “Happy, not perfect”.

Guilt about behaviour or spending.  People feel guilt after Christmas, perhaps about someone they didn’t visit, or about an overlooked present.  And it won’t be a shock to know that they can have felt obliged to overspend as well.

Rumination.  Too much reflection at Christmas can easily turn into rumination, the excessive picking over of our behaviour and experiences.

If you found this mini Christmas blog about feeling ill or low afterwards useful then why not check out the others here or sign up for my monthly newsletter, with more practical tips, quirky research, and case studies every month.