Tips for dealing with post-holiday stress
Published Saturday, January 19, 2013 6:00AM EST
Feeling stressed or exhausted post-holidays is not uncommon.
Although, on the one hand, there might have been happy gatherings, delicious food and time off work/school, on the other hand, all the pressures, obligations, overindulgence, unmet expectations, financial strains, family disagreements -- all make it difficult for people to relax.
Following the holiday season, we often hear people talking about financial debts, their overindulgence of food, sweets or alcohol, feeling overwhelmed with all the social and family gatherings, or about some family tension and conflict that occurred, which presently contributes to ongoing stress and rumination. Some people also share about the difficult times they had during the holidays because of an illness in the family, loss of a loved one or inability to be with loved ones, or inability to buy gifts for their children because of financial constraints.
Many people can feel physically/emotionally/financially exhausted following the holidays.
And so some period of adjustment is usually needed when we go back to school or work. We resume our daily activities, family and friends return home, social gatherings are over, and essentially all the “holiday To Do Lists” are completed.
- It is often helpful to use the holiday season as a learning experience and examine what are the things you enjoyed doing and what was helpful and joyful versus what are the things you plan to do differently the following year.
- We always need to remind ourselves of the positive memories we built from the holidays, the positives we have in life, and appreciate what we have. Sadly, it is often when we experience a loss that we realize what we had. We often forget to live in the moment and present time. So a good reminder for all of us is to live and appreciate the moment and the present.
- Self-care is always important. We need to set up proper sleep hygiene, healthy diet, physical exercise, set up daily meaningful activity, reduce negativity, limit alcohol/nicotine and caffeine consumption, and seek social support and reduce isolation.
- Given that financial difficulties present a significant stressor, it is helpful to look at spending habits; to set up a budget and follow budget to minimize debts. Seeking help from a financial adviser can be helpful when needed.
- If experiencing family conflict: one of the best ways to resolve conflicts includes taking a proactive position and setting up a time to talk about it to help restore healthy relationships. We can work on listening and understanding the other person’s point of view, share our thoughts and feelings as well as listen to the other person’s thoughts and feelings. We all share the need to be heard, to be loved, to be respected and valued. Healthy relationships are essential to our health, wellbeing and quality of life.
- New Year’s resolution: people make a lot of resolutions and decide to make improvements and positive changes. Sadly, we also notice and observe a strong tendency for people to abandon the resolutions and subsequently feel guilty, discouraged, and sad for not accomplishing their goals, which then increase stress.
- To help keep a New Year’s resolution, we need to realize and accept that keeping the resolution is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process. We need to set up specific and realistic goals and expectations, set goals that we can measure and that are attainable and complete one small goal at a time. Accomplishing one small goal at a time helps to improve our motivation, sense of self-confidence and encourage us to achieve more. We can also use social support for help. We need to keep track of our progress, and focus on the benefits of improvement/changing/praise for each step completed. It is helpful and beneficial to perceive each resolution as opportunities.
My Most Sincere Best Wishes for 2013,
Dr. Katy Kamkar, Ph.D., C.Psych.