What do you think of when the holiday season approaches? Time off work and vacation with family, or additional responsibilities and stressful expectations? A survey conducted by Verywell Mind revealed that 80% of respondents found the holidays to be “somewhat stressful” or “very stressful.” Whether it’s preparing elaborate meals, picking out meaningful gifts, or attending an unusual amount of parties, the holidays bring something for everyone to stress about.
If you can relate to the holiday stress, you’re not alone! The high expectations that come with traditions, parties, and family gatherings are a source of stress for many people. So the question we’re asking today is this: how can we best recover from the stress after the holidays are over? If you’re interested in taking the best possible care of yourself in the new year, read on to find out how!
Where Should I Start?
The most important part of your life to consider after the holidays is your sleep schedule. With everything that goes on—especially with Christmas and New Year’s Eve so close together—it’s easy for your regular sleep rhythms to get thrown off. The effects of this change will show very quickly, making you drowsier and more sensitive to stress during the day. And this only makes it more difficult to sleep the next night! It is a familiar and vicious cycle, as over 25% of all Americans struggle to fall asleep at night.
There are solutions! The most obvious is setting a specific, regular time to fall asleep each night. However, it’s one thing to get in bed and another to fall asleep. If you’re having trouble drifting off, change your environment. Make your bedroom darker by removing any televisions or clocks that emit bright light, and consider taking the natural supplement melatonin, which is renowned as a sleep aid.
As you consider your sleep habits, remember your pre-holiday season sleep schedule. When would you get in bed? When would you wake up? How many total hours of sleep did you get each night? If your old schedule was working, then by all means, resume it! However, if your pre-holiday sleeping habits were less than ideal, don’t be afraid to switch things up in the new year. Getting the right amount of sleep will work wonders for your stress levels, and the benefits of sleep will be critical in recovering from the busy holiday season.
The Best New Year’s Resolution
Once your sleep schedule has been sorted out, the next way to de-stress is through exercise! For many of us, the holidays are a time to stay out of the gym and eat more than usual. This is why it’s especially important to evaluate your routine afterward. Ask yourself the same sort of questions we just discussed for sleep. Was your pre-holiday approach to exercise working for you? If so, great! Seize the post-holiday opportunity to continue the old regimen. If it didn’t work, this is your chance to design a routine that will best serve you. Whether it’s cardio or strength training, there is an exercise out there that’s ideal for you.
Can exercise really boost your energy levels? Wouldn’t the extra effort just add more stress to your routine? It might feel that way, but in fact, regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Therefore, once you see the benefits of exercise, you’ll be better prepared to handle daily stress and recover from the holidays.
Diet is also a factor in dealing with stress. What you eat has an enormous effect on your mood from day to day, which is why it’s essential to know how different foods affect you. For example, research has shown that stress can be relieved with leafy vegetables, avocados, bananas, fish, and chicken. So while you’re increasing your intake of those foods, increase the benefit further by cutting out items with trans fats, added fructose, and lots of carbs.
How Can I Improve My Emotional Life?
The last way to recover is to take control of your emotional health. This is especially helpful after a stressful season full of holiday celebrations and short on time to yourself. While the exercise and sleep habits we covered above do play a role in your emotional health, there are more direct ways you can take care of your emotions.
First, prioritize your activities. This is very relevant during the holiday season but applies to the rest of the year as well. If you decide how important certain events are to you, you’ll be able to say no to the events that would drain you without offering value in return. It can be uncomfortable at first, but turning down activities that don’t fit into your schedule is ultimately for the best!
Once you’ve decided which items are most important, be sure to integrate self-care strategies into your daily life. One of the most widely-praised options is spending time in nature. Multiple studies concluded that “if people simply take time to notice the nature around them, it will increase their general happiness and well-being.”
When it comes to stress and your emotional health, consider taking a break from technology. Technology use often contributes to feelings of loneliness and dissatisfaction. This is especially true of social media websites, so if your job prevents you from unplugging, take a break from social media. Studies have revealed that just one month off social media can bring mental health benefits to our lives. If you need to recover from the stress of the holiday season, this is the step for you!
A Parting Reminder
Whether it’s sleep, exercise, diet, or emotional health, many areas of our lives can be improved with a few minutes of reflection and a little determination to adopt a new habit. We hope that these ideas—whether a walk in nature, a social media fast, or a simplified schedule—help you and your loved ones as you recover from the stress of the next holiday season. Stay tuned to Top Doctor Magazine for more!