Chelsea Petersen, LMFT, Cache Valley Counseling
It’s no lie that the holidays can be some of the most joyous times of our lives AND some of the most stress-filled times. Many people experience the post-holiday blues, but many people also become so stressed during the holidays they can’t seem to “enjoy the moments.” Read on for five tips to help you enjoy (instead of just survive) the moments and five tips for enduring the post-holiday blues.
Enjoying the Holidays
- Set and keep realistic expectations. This doesn’t mean that you are keeping up with the Joneses and are involved in all of the holiday activities. Pick a few of your must-dos and be OK with saying no to other things. Don’t overburden yourself just to fit in all the “magic” of the season.
- Have financial boundaries. Set a budget and stick to it! It’s OK if your kids don’t get the “hot item,” or they are the only ones without the latest iPhone. They will survive (even if they tell you otherwise). People usually don’t remember the gift of the season, they remember the feeling, and that can’t be bought.
- Don’t stress about pleasing others. You can’t be in two places at once, and oftentimes there are multiple holiday parties scheduled for the same time. Do what is best for your family, and don’t be sad about upsetting someone else whose party you can’t attend. Be present where you are and enjoy the time — don’t wish away the moment to be somewhere else.
- Plan ahead. The more you can schedule things and make necessary plans and preparations before needing to rush out the door, the less stressed you will be arriving on time. Instead of last-minute gift shopping, plan and prepare to make the most of limited shopping trips.
- Make moments for yourself. Take time for yourself during the holiday season. Women typically carry the greatest burdens during the holiday, so, ladies, “treat yo’ self!” That doesn’t mean break the bank and buy anything you want, but that does mean, soak in a hot bath, drink a hot tea or hot chocolate, or put your feet up and enjoy a Hallmark Christmas movie or a classic novel.
Enduring Post-Holiday Blues
- Get outside. Often, during the holidays when the weather turns cold, we gather around a table of food to socialize. Some of the best medicine for beating the blues can be found outside in nature. So, bundle up and get out there, even if it’s only for a short walk around the block.
- Take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and exercise. You know those New Year’s Resolutions? Try making realistic ones that are easy to stick to. They should be about making yourself a better version of yourself for years to come. Getting more sleep and exercise and eating well should be on the list.
- Find something to look forward to. Plan a stay-cation or vacation, go somewhere warm, plan a lunch or dinner date with your spouse, or go to the movies. Whatever sounds exciting, plan something that helps you stay motivated.
- Mourn those you have lost. The holidays can be a painful reminder of loss, whether you have experienced divorce, separation, or the death of a loved one. Taking time to grieve those important relationships can make enduring the pain a little easier.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Many people feel overwhelmed with new-found credit card bills, stressed about having nothing to do, frustrated with the cold, and many other things that make them feel like isolating themselves. Push yourself to get out: Join a book club, go to the gym, visit a neighbor or friend, or go for a walk. Do something to stretch yourself to associate with others.
Whether you get the blues during the holidays or after, it’s important to talk to other people. Let them know if you are feeling stressed or lonely. If the loneliness persists for longer than a six-week period, consider talking to your doctor or reaching out to a therapist for help. Sometimes talking to someone and feeling connected is the best medicine.