Managing Holiday Stress and Post-Holiday Let-Down

Still, gearing up for the holidays or dealing with the aftermath of them? Either way, it can be stressful. Here are some tried-and-true tips for getting ready for the holidays and for coping with Post-Holiday Let-Down.

Gearing Up

Just because there are 25 additional things on your daily TO-DO List doesn’t mean that you aren’t still a human being who needs a minimal amount of good food, sleep, and stress-reducing activities to stay in a relatively decent mood.  Because you are!

DO NOT forget the “basics!”

If you can’t fit in eating healthy meals, 6-7 hours of sleep, and a not-insane amount of exercise into your day, then let something else fall off of your TO-DO List.  Otherwise, you may get everything done before Christmas, but you’re going to have to joke that what you asked Santa for at Christmas was dark under-eye circles.

And since you were on the “Nice List…”

Where’s My “ME Time?!”

In addition to not skimping on the basics, it’s important to balance the amount of time you spend with others and the amount of time you spend in peaceful solitude.  If you’re a person who needs a lot of “me time,” then figure out before the holiday how you’re going to get it. It won’t happen if you wait and you’ll be all grumpy and out of sorts…and people love that.

Look for Meaningful Moments

As you prepare for the holidays, and then get caught up in the whirlwind of events and experiences, look for what I like to call “meaningful moments.”  Talks with special people, the meaning of the words you usually say or read by rote, the wonder that it all happens and everyone is there playing a part in it.

What can you take away from this holiday? What will you want to remember the most? Pay attention and look for those moments.

It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Last Gift is Opened

You might be very glad that the holidays are over. Or you might be very sad to see them go.  Either way, transitioning back to normalcy after the frenzy and increased demands of the holidays is something everyone has to do.  Here are just a few ideas for you to kick around to manage some post-holiday sadness or “let-down.”

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

A transition back to normal routines will go much more easily if you have a plan.  To avoid an abrupt crash back to the reality of cleaning up, saying goodbyes, dealing with the bills and the five-pound weight gain… have a plan!

Plan a fun activity that continues the positive mood of the holidays with friends or family for the day after Christmas.  Something that involves some fresh air, time to wander aimlessly, and no more financial burdens would be good. Try a walk around the neighborhood, build a snowman (if you’ve got the snow!), troll the beach for shells, or get out to your nearest park and breathe!!!

Make A List and Check It Twice

Make a list of what worked this holiday and what definitely did not.  Baked way too many cookies? Attended too many holiday parties?  Didn’t make time to see The Nutcracker?  What made your holiday complete this year and what could you do without?

Keep this list in a place where you’ll see it at the very beginning of holiday planning, so you’ll see it and remember before you do it again next Christmas that it’s a bad idea to drink 4 cups of eggnog.

Need A New Normal?

As you’re returning gradually to normal routines, maybe it’s dawning on you that you actually would be better off NOT going back to your normal way of eating, sleeping, and exercising.  Maybe you don’t even have anything whatsoever that resembles normal!

You’re in luck!

By next week, people will be asking you what your New Year’s Resolutions are.  Consider the basics of nutrition, sleep, and exercise and see if you need to get to a New Normal with anything.

Carry the Spirit Forward

If one reason you feel sad that the holidays are over is because you will be returning to life without that warm, holiday feeling you love. See if you can identify what it is for you that makes the holidays something you love.  Is it being with family and friends?  Is it taking time out of your busy schedule to appreciate good music, family traditions, religious rituals, and making your home environment warm and cheerful?  Whatever it is, you can find ways to continue doing this all year.

Take the spirit of the holidays with you into the new year, into the Spring and the Summer, and the Fall. If it brings you joy, peace, happiness, and satisfaction, find ways to do those things every week in some shape or form.  Even if that means you leave your Christmas tree up all year…go for it.  You’ll have one less thing on your TO-DO List next holiday season!

DrAnita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist

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