Sadness after Diwali is real… and you’re not alone

Rangoli Diwali Depression (Image: Canva)

The same day last week, we were all looking forward to the festive weekend. This year has been a sh*t show. We all pinned our hopes on Diwali, hoping it will bring back some semblance of normalcy during these strange times. And I truly wish that you had an amazing time.

A week later, Diwali is done and dusted. We have brought the kandils and the torans down. Dabbas that were once bursting with farsan now wear an empty look. The fervent bustling in the house has died down. Just like that, Diwali is gone.

This year, Diwali was more sombre than usual. Festivities were already muted this year thanks to the pandemic. Some of us couldn’t be near our parents and friends due to the restrictions.

And here we are, back to our humdrum existence of virtual meetings, emails and wearing blazers over pyjamas. If you are feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness post-Diwali, know that you are not alone.

Why we do feel depressed after Diwali?

Not just Diwali, any major festivity can trigger sadness after its passing. A lull that follows after a week of festivities can be depressing. Some call it Post Festival Withdrawal Syndrome. In western countries, the phenomenon is seen after Christmas, which falls in winter when Seasonal Affective Disorder is rampant.

Diwali or any other celebration brings a temporary respite from routine. We all get a chance to keep our worries aside and celebrate with our loved ones. It’s easy to see why we feel sad when the fun comes to a grinding halt.

During festivals, we also keep our diet restrictions aside, eating anything that can pass off as food. What follows is guilt, wondering why we couldn’t exercise restraint.

If you spent the last few weeks propelling sweets and carby farsan into your mouth, here’s some more bad news. Longitudinal studies (studies that were conducted over a period of time) have found that having sweetened beverages, refined foods and pastries increase risk of depression. On that note, have you ever wondered how much sugar can you have safely?

Meeting family may also have the opposite effect on some people. Maybe some old wounds were opened or some painful memories were brought to the fore. Social relationships can bring you great happiness. But anyone who has been around relatives for too long knows they can be a pain in the gluteus maximus.

Why are some people more susceptible?

Some of us are still lying in bed hugging our Diwali gifts, but for others, it’s back to business in no time. Why this discrepancy?

While I was working with The Health Site, I spoke to Dr Avinash Joshi, a Nagpur-based psychiatrist on the topic.  He compared post-holiday depression to Sunday-evening blues. It’s akin to the uneasy feeling we get on a Sunday evening, thinking about reporting to work the next day.

He mentioned Cyclothymia, a mild mood disorder characterised by intermittent highs and lows. People who exhibit this disorder may need the crutch of celebrations to feel elated again. Naturally, when the festivities end, they too start experiencing lows again.

How to beat it

The normalcy that follows festivities can be upsetting. But there’s no reason to dread the routine. In fact, sticking to a routine may help. Get up on time, fix your bed, cook, clean and go about with your daily life. Take one day at a time. Find joy in little accomplishments.

What’s stopping you from talking to your best friend on the phone? Maybe your best friend, because you already called her too many times. That’s alright! Connect with someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time.

Get some vitamin D. Catch some early morning sunshine. Go back to being good to your body. Exercise. Get those feel-good hormones running.

Anyway, Christmas and New Year aren’t too far away. So there’s something to look forward to.