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5 Ways to Simplify Post-Holiday Stress

Take a deep breath. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are winding down and you finally have a moment to yourself. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or even a little down, use these five tips to de-stress, get organized, and lift your spirits just in time to step into the New Year on a positive note.

1. Assess the Damage

If you’re still reeling from holiday chaos, take a minute to get your bearings, assess the damage, and set goals for yourself. Whether you’ve gained a few pounds or your bank account is running low, just taking the time to acknowledge these sources of stress and making a plan to improve them can be a huge step in the right direction.

2. Resolve to Exercise

Getting more exercise and making healthier lifestyle choices are two of the most popular New Year’s resolutions year after year. But if you’ve struggled to keep these resolutions in the past, make it your business to achieve them this year. Set small but measureable goals for yourself, and don’t be afraid to celebrate every victory, no matter how small. 

Exercise offers so much more than just a rockin’ beach body, although that’s certainly a perk, too. We know that regular exercise also helps to combat symptoms of depression and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease, and puts you in a good mood (Harvard Health Publications).

3. Plan a Trip

If you’re stuck in a rut with the post-holiday blues, consider planning a trip in the coming months. This will give you something to look forward to, as well as shake up the monotony of cold, winter weather and the sudden quietness and isolation that you may feel right after the holidays. Even a small day trip or a weekend getaway can be enough to lift your spirits and give you a chance to relax and unwind.

Or, if you experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter, plan a trip to a warmer and sunnier destination to help stave off seasonal depression. If this isn’t possible, bring the sunshine to you by brightening up your home with fresh paint, plenty of lighting, and sheer curtains.

4. Make Time for Creativity

Have you always wanted to write a book, paint, or craft something? Why not make your creative outlets a priority in the New Year? Not only do these activities create a sense of relaxation and self-accomplishment, but they may also be an effective way to confront mood disorders. In fact, art, music, dance, and expressive writing are now widely used as healing and coping methods for people with a variety of mental and physical ailments (American Journal of Public Health). When you’re feeling stressed-out, depressed, or anxious, try picking up your pen, paintbrush, or guitar and letting your creative juices flow. 

5. Reach Out for Support

Everyone can benefit from having a strong network of close friends, relatives, co-workers, or neighbors. There really is strength in numbers. If you’re having a particularly difficult time getting back to your regular routine after the holidays, or if you’re suddenly feeling isolated, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. Meet with an old friend for lunch, call a relative, or chat with a neighbor. 

Social interaction has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety by fostering a positive sense of self and feelings of belonging and inclusion (Journal of Counseling Psychology). Reaching out for help doesn’t always have to mean venting your frustrations or sources of stress to others, although it could. If you tend to be a private person about these types of topics, don’t discount the impact that simply spending time and interacting with others can have on your mood and outlook.