Updated on 2/17/21
I look forward to the holidays every year — family, friends, gifts, merriment — yet every January I’m left feeling like I was run over by Santa’s sleigh. Was it all of the apple pie and sugar cookies or the underhanded insults from an unwelcome relative or guest? Either way, I’m always entering the New Year feeling exhausted, with an emotional hangover instead of energized — despite the time off work.
It’s no surprise that too much socializing and not enough recharging — lots of eating and drinking, little sleep and absolutely no exercise — can lead to problems. Often there are reunions that are filled with joy but make me slip into old dynamics and dwell on unresolved issues that bring up past trauma and stress. Add to all of this how expensive this time of year is, it’s easy to see why I’m left depleted. Below are three ways to avoid the holiday hangover.
Tips for Dealing with Stress and Depression Over the Holidays
According to the American Psychological Association, I’m not alone. Eighty percent of people anticipate increased stress over the holiday. There are many aspects of the holidays that can be triggering. And, According to Mayo Clinic, stress and depression often rear their heads during the holidays, and the impact can seep into the New Year.
So, now that we’re done with this festive — yet difficult and stressful — time of the year, what can we do to wind down, reenergize and refocus?
It’s important to focus on self-care and taking little steps throughout the day to minimize stress. A New Year is exciting because it’s a blank slate, but it can also be intimidating. Once work’s back in full swing, it can be challenging to keep the resolutions you’ve set. It’s overwhelming to think about making big changes, so try making small changes that will lead to a big impact. To get rid of my holiday hangover, I’ll be focusing on:
Exercising three times a week
The positive impact of exercise on mental health is no secret, and I can vouch for its benefits. As much as I don’t enjoy working out, I always feel better after I do. It’s the best way to clear my head and get my energy back up. During the busy holiday season, exercise routines often get shoved aside. Making the effort to get back into a workout routine, even if it’s something minimal each day, will help get you back into the swing of things.
Talking it out
Whenever I’m not feeling my best, I feel an additional layer of anxiety by keeping all of the feelings to myself. While I don’t always need to spill every detail, taking the time to process my feelings with someone else helps me better understand the situation and gain insight that I’ve likely missed by ruminating alone.
Talking to a therapist can be a great way to do this. Utilizing better problem-solving techniques can help you overcome the holiday hangover in the short term, and in general is a great way to establish better emotional wellness in your daily life.Maybe you’ve just neglected your long-term therapist during the busyness of the holidays, or maybe working with a licensed therapist is a resolution for the upcoming year. Wherever you’re at in the therapy process, take the time to talk it out with a professional this new year.
Giving myself space
One of the reasons I fall into a post-holiday slump is because I don’t pay attention to my own needs and feelings during the holiday season as much as I should. As an introvert, my alone time is key to my happiness, and I’m going to try and reclaim it for the rest of this winter. Set boundaries with your loved ones and maybe even schedule in some alone time to allow yourself the rest and relaxation you need to be successful.
Ultimately, keeping in touch with your own needs is a priority in the new year. Don’t neglect the self-care you’ve been putting aside and you’ll be on your way to getting over the holiday hangover.