The holidays and the new year are loaded with excitement and hope. But, now that you’re stranded in the middle of January there can be a big emotional dropoff as the days are darker, the weather is colder and the winter blues are turning into house guests who are overstaying their welcome.
As you come off the highs and lows of the holiday emotional roller coaster, it can be helpful to keep the following tips in mind so that you can ride out the rest of 2014 feeling less stressed and more liberated.
Move Forward with Positive Reflections
Post-holiday stress can continue to linger well into the new year as money problems, family conflict and failed resolutions chip away at your attitude, perspective and outlook on life. It’s easy to get down on yourself as you stress out about where you’ve been and are anxious or apprehensive about what the future holds.
Instead of getting stuck in a stressed-out holding pattern, focus on letting your past go and living day to day. Also, being grateful for all of the accomplishments -– both large and small -– that you accumulate throughout your daily life can help replace your stress with feelings of pride and self-worth.
“Don’t beat yourself up about what you’ve done or not accomplished over the past year,” advises Meredith McCullough, massage therapist at Elements Timonium. “Take a moment to reflect on the past and put it to rest. You can’t change the year you’ve had. You can only move forward and keep things in perspective. Look at each day as a fresh new opportunity.”
Accept the Imperfections in Your Life
It doesn’t matter how hard you try to be all that you can be both personally and professionally. The world isn’t perfect and neither is your life. As hard of a pill as that might be to swallow, the sooner you realize that stacking stress and unrealistic expectations onto your life only leads to more imperfection the sooner you can start living a more fulfilling and stress-free lifestyle.
Don’t settle for second best, but rather accept that you and your life won’t always be ideal. Instead of constantly striving for the next best thing and achieving ultimate perfection, take the time to appreciate and focus on the people, things and opportunities you already have in your life.
“The new year comes along and everyone is planning every little detail from what to wear to the party to the countdown and even the kiss,” reflects McCullough. “We are too hard on ourselves to make things perfect and to be the best. It’s supposed to be all about spending time with friends and family. But it ends up stressing you out with all of the expectations you put on yourself. It’s important to keep things in perspective, let go of so many expectations, do what you can and don’t beat yourself up.”
Express Your Feelings
Bottling up your emotions can lead to only one thing -– a large stress ball that will eventually explode leaving you feeling defeated, lonely and unhappy. When you feel like your blood pressure is about to boil over, channel your feelings toward a positive outlet whether it’s venting to a close friend or sweating out your stresses during a physical activity.
Don’t be afraid to feel your feelings and don’t stifle them; they will eventually pass if you let them run their course. Cry if you need to, scream at the sky if that helps, but just do whatever it takes to express yourself and let go of your emotions.
“We’re all normal and we’re all going to have feelings,” says McCullough. “It’s OK to express how you feel. When you find yourself having a pity party, remember that someone always has it better than you and someone else will be worse off than you. We are all pretty lucky and we have to remember to count our blessings.”
Put a Smile on Your Face
With the complexity of living in today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to forget that simplest acts such as smiling can make a huge difference in affecting your daily attitude and the attitudes of everyone you come in contact with. A lot of people feel lonely this time of year, so putting a smile on your face may be all that it takes to light up someone else’s day and spread a little cheer. Smiling also can help relieve some of your post-holiday stress by positively influencing your mind and body’s disposition.
“Smiles are contagious,” says McCullough. “Even if you don’t feel like smiling, try to fake it until you make it. All it takes is one person to smile back at you to help change your attitude and the way you feel about yourself.”
Get Back on Track with a Regular Routine
The holidays can really throw your routine out the door as parties, celebrations and traditions pile on top of your already busy life. To help combat post-holiday stress, focus on getting your schedule back on track in the new year by organizing you and your family’s activities in one easy-to-access location. And don’t be afraid to schedule in some “me time” such as a massage, coffee with a friend or just time alone to read a good book. Regular time to just focus on rejuvenating and reinvigorating your mind and body can do wonders for combatting stress throughout the year.
Derail your post-holiday stress by taking these simple steps to transition your attitudes and perspectives into a more positive light. Remember, today is a new day to celebrate life, so do your best to make it as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.