You know the feeling. That pre-holiday expectancy grows as the temperature drops, leaves fall, and holiday décor magically appears in stores (in October!). Let’s admit it, the anticipation and planning begin months before the actual holidays arrive. Detailed lists are being made, gifts purchased, meals planned. Schedules are filling from mid-November through December with concerts, parties, and dinners. Eagerness grows with the coziness and warmth of the approaching season. Then it is upon us; holidays arrive in a blur of lights, music and energy. There is love and laughing and treasured time with family and friends. The long anticipated break from work and school becomes a reality. A new year is ushered in with much celebrating.
Then, it’s January 2nd. Decorations come down. Christmas music and Christmas cookies disappear. The truth of weeks of overspending and overeating is staring you directly in the face. Back to work and school. Back to reality. And to top it off: It. Is. Cold.
To make the post-holiday-back-to-reality transition easier, consider implementing these five strategies.
1. Pay attention to your basic needs during high stress and busy times. Eat healthy, get adequate sleep, and continue regular exercise. Increase water intake. Assess your nutritional intake and add supplements if needed.
2. Begin working on “New Year’s Resolutions” in November and December. Work out the kinks. Test reality. Adjust goals. And by the time the New Year arrives you will be well on your way to succeeding with realistic resolutions. Examples of attainable goals would be to not gain additional weight over the holiday season, to maintain an exercise schedule in November and December, to not procrastinate but complete projects PRIOR to vacation.
3. Budget. Don’t use the excitement and whirlwind of the holidays as an excuse to overspend. The reality will hit hard in 6 months when the first payment, on what seemed like an amazing buy, is now due. Preplan purchases, including food, and set realistic limits.
4. Avoid putting off work until “after the holidays”. It feels good to defer less desirable tasks on the job. Until January.
5. Embrace the winter! For many of us, there is no greater stretch of colorless monotony than what exists January through March. However that does not have to be the case! Don the layers. Ski, snowshoe, skate, sled, walk, ice fish, snowmobile, hike. Natural light is a valued commodity during the dark winter days.
If your feelings of “let down” continue, don’t despair! According to Mayo Clinic, approximately 3 million Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons and often begins and ends at about the same times every year. Typically symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. The good news is that this is a treatable condition. Have a conversation with your doctor or mental health professional to discuss treatment options.
Take time to think through strategies that will help you combat the post-holiday let-down. With thoughtful planning and preparation, the return to January reality can be a satisfying transition kicking off an exciting New Year!