Cope with post-holiday stress by starting healthier habits

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The holiday rush is over, and this might bring about symptoms of depression and stress, which can be harmful to your health.

Avoiding the dreaded "After Holiday Blues" is not always easy. We might be overwhelmed by the finality. We reflect that we have over-eaten and under-slept, have the burden of returning gifts, stowing decorations, paying bills, and reflecting on some memories of dysfunctional family gatherings.

We can use these practical coping skills to turn the post-holidays experience to a pleasant and enjoyable start to 2019.

Refocus your energy to fun and relaxation after the holidays. Start with a written plan or goals that are realistic to achieve balance back into your lifestyle.

Developing a budget can help to manage your financial stress of paying bills. Be realistic! Keep things simple and reduce self-induced stress.

Plan a health routine, and add physical activities like walking or riding a bike and a regular bedtime. Healthy habits of a balanced diet, sleep, regular exercise, and drinking water can improve emotional stability.

Reduce alcohol consumption. Sugar and alcohol can affect the way in which our minds process emotion and can bring on emotional stress along with guilt that causes depression.

The post-holiday season might be the time when we mourn a loved one who has died, especially if recently. Allow yourself to feel sadness and to cry. Reach out to others in your community; support systems are often a source of comfort during this time.

Acknowledge your feelings and guard yourself against emotional triggers. Practice kindness to yourself and others. Take time for yourself. Listen to music, read, meditate, get a massage, take a walk on the beach.

If these suggestions do not help, and you find yourself hopeless, overwhelmed, feeling sad and anxious, get professional help. If you are irritable, not sleeping or sleeping too much, unable to deal with your daily routine, it might be time to consult a professional.

Problems with family, finances and other personal demands can trigger stress. You can incorporate healthy coping skills into your life to help bring about a time of peace and joy.

Dr. Deb Davis Hall, Ed.D, LPC/I, is a counselor with Hope Performance Systems on Hilton Head Island. dhall@hopeperformancesystems.com; hopeperformancesystems.com

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