The holidays are a time meant for joy and celebration. Unfortunately, they also have a tendency to increase stress and anxiety. Maintaining one’s physical and mental health is of the utmost importance for getting the best out of the holiday season. These feelings often cumulate and peak in the period of time following the holidays, once the hype and fanfare have died down. Here are some ideas on surviving the holidays, and maintaining a strong mental constitution in the post-holiday lull.
One of the main stressors of the holidays is the stress on the wallet. The high cost of presents, parties, decorations and travel adds up quickly. On average, Americans spend upwards of $1,000 on gifts alone per year (American Research Group). While this happens every year, many people still find themselves shocked when their January credit card statement arrives. The best way to offset this stressor is through preparation and budgeting. Outline how much you want to spend on each person, and evaluate the total. Stick to the limits you set for yourself. Evaluate alternatives to gifts: perhaps instead of buying for all your friends, you can agree to go out to dinner together. If you have an abundance of nieces and nephews, invite them over to bake with you and send the goods home with them. There are endless opportunities for budget saving, many of which enrich the season through personalization. Better yet, plan in advance next year. Set aside $20 per paycheck in a savings account. By Christmas, you’ll have a nice little nest egg accumulated.
Unless you are entirely committed to a diet plan over the holidays, chances are you will overindulge. To offset these expected deviations, plan healthy meals ahead of time for “off” days.
In today’s society, blended families are the norm. As such, holidays can be chaotic with parties, visits, and running around. Stop trying to please everyone and set some boundaries. Allow yourself time to enjoy the season. Prioritize which events are most crucial for attendance, and what you can forgo. Consider alternating years for different events. Remember: it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t go somewhere.
While many people experience the stress of too many family members, many individuals have the opposite problem. The holidays can be a reminder of loss and a trigger for grief. They can bring forth feelings of loneliness and isolation for those who don’t have many contacts. Counteract these feelings through volunteerism. The holidays are a time of need for many, and volunteering can provide fulfillment and genuine human contact both for yourself and others. Volunteering also a good option for those trying to escape the high level of familial expectations as previously mentioned.
Consider a break from social media: 2016 was a record year for social media usage with users spending an average of 118 minutes on social media per day (Statista). That’s 2 hours using social media, every day. This statistic means that if the average person stayed off social media for the month of December, they’d have an extra 2.5 DAYS to get everything done. Refraining from social media use during the holidays not only allows you extra time but ensures you’re present in the moment and enriches your holiday experience.
Don’t neglect your fitness program
Towards the end of the year, it can be challenging to maintain a proper fitness program. Many people choose to let it slide, and revisit the gym in January with the surge of New Year’s resolution gym goers. Physical exercise has a proven effect on mental wellness and stress levels (ADAA). Strive to maintain your fitness program. Schedule your workout time as you would schedule a doctor’s appointment. You are apt to overindulge on holiday spirits, hors d’oeuvres, and turkey. Maintaining your fitness regimen will help offset the immoderations and keep you on track to bounce back in the New Year. If you feel you don’t have time for fitness, try to incorporate active family activities into your schedule. Skating, skiing, hiking, and sports are a great way to bond while being physically active. If you still feel that you don’t have enough time, revisit the social media statistics.
Be weary of seasonal impacts on your immune system
We’re more likely to fall ill with a cold or flu during the winter months. Additionally, we become more susceptible to illnesses when we are worn down and exhausted. Make sure you have healthy, ready to go snacks such as fresh fruit and salads on hand at all times. Consider taking a vitamin supplement if you don’t already. Wash your hands regularly, especially when venturing into public domains.
Remember to balance your meal choices
Unless you are entirely committed to a diet plan over the holidays, chances are you will overindulge. To offset these expected deviations, plan healthy meals ahead of time for “off” days. In layman’s terms, plan to eat well on the days when you aren’t at a holiday party. Meal preparation, healthy on-the-go snacks, and conscientious dining will limit the effects of overindulging and create a much happier person when the holiday’s end and the New Year begins. It’s much easier to get back on track if you don’t veer too far off the rails. However, ‘tis the season to enjoy yourself; Allow yourself some treats that you wouldn’t otherwise.
Don’t get bogged down by resolutions
At this time of year, we’re often pressured to set goals for ourselves, while being flooded with images boasting “New Year, New Me.” Setting goals is a healthy, effective way to make changes in your life. Nevertheless, instead of focusing on everything that’s “wrong” with you, take a moment to reflect upon your journey so far. Acknowledge the accomplishments you’ve made already. Give yourself a proverbial pat on the back.
The post-holiday blues are a very real phenomenon. After the lights come down, the parties cease, and life returns to normal many find themselves stricken by feelings of let-down, melancholia, and depression. In conjunction with seasonal affective disorder (SADD), the post-holiday blues can start a new year off on a sour note. As with pre-holiday stress, you can combat post-holiday sadness with preparation. Here are a few ways to ready yourself
Plan something to look forward to
One would think that after the hustle bustle of the holidays, the last thing someone would want to do is host an event. However, the drastic decline in company can affect even the most secluded of introverts. Planning outings or events in advance will give you a positive focus and the opportunity to see friends and family in a more relaxed setting. You could plan a house party, a movie night, or a seasonal activity. Essentially, anything that will result in social stimulation.
Maintain your mental wellness
If you’re someone who regularly suffers depression and anxiety, ensure that you’re prepared for the added effects of this time. Don’t hesitate to book some time with a therapist and reach out for help. Engage in meditative moments and positive self-talk. Call a friend if you need to talk, and try to stay active.
Try something new
Perhaps you’ve always wanted to attend a poetry reading or visit the art gallery. Maybe you’ve always been interested in learning to play an instrument. Whatever interests you’ve put on the back burner, now is a good time to bring them to the forefront of your mind. Engaging in a new hobby can add a sense of fulfillment and help to create a sense of positivity about the New Year.
Remember that time heals. This experience is only a brief moment in the big picture. This feeling is temporary and will pass in time. Winter will become spring, bringing with it the blossoming joy and beauty of new beginnings.