As children, holidays were oftentimes complete with joy and anticipation; presents under the tree and in stockings, enchanting Christmas lights, hot cocoa in front of a toasty warm fire, and a fantastic spread of food and desserts to top it all off. However, as adults the merriment often fades. We learn how strenuous the season can be with a multitude of responsibilities and financial obligations to be filled. Family angst and old hurts arise, the budget for gifts is overwhelming, and traveling with the kids seems to be the bane of your existence. Some have coined the term “Martha Stewart Syndrome” due to the pressure toward perfection.
It’s not uncommon to have a surge of clients emerge as the New Year begins in private practice for psychologists. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, respondents rated lack of time as the most stressful part of the season (69%) alongside lack of money (69%), with pressure to give gifts in a close second at 51%. Accompanying these multiple anxiety-provoking issues, people also reported that their health suffered. 59% had symptoms of sadness, 56% experienced sleep problems, and 55% a lack of energy.
Using some practical tips and healthy coping strategies, you can battle and better prevent the holiday hangover. First, have a game plan. Set aside specific times for activities that need to be accomplished in a timely manner to beat the last-minute scramble. Make a checklist and budget to be equipped for what you need. Second, use your relationships and foster community to ward off loneliness and/or depression. Go with friends or family members to social events or to run errands. Ask for help when need be, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries or say no. Lastly, avoid using this time as an excuse to abandon healthy habits. With the multiple pressures that arise sleep, a healthy diet, and physical activity are still pinnacle in staying well. If you are already “hungover” from too much seasonal bliss, don’t feel like it’s too late to jump on the bandwagon and implement healthy change! Remember the real reason for the season and start fresh today.