6 Ways To Recharge If Your Holidays Have Been Stressful
The holidays are meant to be a time of relaxation, stress-free fun, and chilling out. For some of us, though, a recharge after the holidays is necessary: between financial anxiety, family dysfunction, travel issues, and more, the holidays can be more stressful than not. After a vacation, you're supposed to come back to the ~real world~ floating on air, but more often than not, you're still carrying all the stress of the holidays with you. I always feel relieved to return to routine and work life after the chaos of the holiday period, but I've never really felt rested after the New Year. So how can you recharge if your holidays have put you on edge rather than defusing your stress levels?
The key to dealing with post-holiday stress, according to experts, is in managing your transition period effectively and recognizing the stress that you're carrying. If you do have post-vacation blues, you may discover that you sleep badly, have a low mood, and aren't feeling well overall. "The symptoms of the post-holiday blues period are similar to those of 'regular' depression — headaches, insomnia and trouble sleeping, anxiety ... and agitation," says the Center for Anxiety Disorders. You don't have to feel guilty for "not enjoying" family time or feeling stressed out while you're home — it happens to plenty of us. Here are six ways to get back to feeling like your usual self after a stressful holiday "break."
1. Acknowledge The Stress You've Been Under
It's worth acknowledging what happened over the holiday period and how it will affect your transition back into non-break mode. "Be kind to yourself," say experts at Timely, a time management app. "Remember that returning to work after a vacation will always be a transition period. Don’t get discouraged by how out-of-the-loop you are; it will take a few days to fully catch up on what’s been going on, and no one expects otherwise. Try to stay focused and positive, and if you do feel overwhelmed, take a breather." Take things slowly and don't have high expectations of your own performance as you recover.
2. Give Yourself Boundaries
It can be a good idea to stagger your return to the normal working world by setting up clear limits for emails and meetings. Sarah Landrum of Fairy Godboss wrote for Fast Company that "reasonable boundaries" are a good way to manage after stressful holidays. She suggested continuing to utilize your out of ofice messages: "You’re open by email for responses to priority questions but will officially come back on 'X' day. Include when you’ll check your email or expected response time."
3. Book An Actually Restful Vacation
Lift your spirits post-stress by going online and getting yourself an actually relaxing holiday to look forward to. The Washington Post reported in 2017 that "A recent Booking.com survey revealed that 1 in 5 visitors book their next vacation during the last 24 hours of their current trip." Rather than booking a trip back home, or a high-flying sightseeing tour, book a staycation or a weekend trip within a few hours of your house to mitigate travel stress and leave you time to actually decompress. The dose of potential chill-out time in the future will likely buoy your spirits as you recover from stress in the present.
4. Pick Out Your Best Memories From The Break
Even people who've just experienced blissful holidays can find coming back to the 'real world' difficult. When recovering from a stressful holiday season, however, rearranging your thinking can be helpful. Meditation expert Tristan Elizabeth Gribbin wrote for Harvard Business Review that meditation and memory can be powerful tools. "Take moments to remember some of the best experiences of your trip, and use those to guide yourself toward that intention," she said. "When you do this, you’ll start to notice and counteract some of the stress that’s setting in. You’ll remind yourself that your batteries are recharged, and that you are up to the task. And, of course, meditate. Just a few minutes can bring you a world of benefits."
5. Vacation In Your Mind
Even if you can't manage another holiday for a while, experts recommend that you use your own mind to try and chill out a little before returning to work stress. "Give yourself permission to take a step back and unplug a little bit — at least when you’re not actively working," writes Kat Boogard for The Muse. "Even a little bit of time off from the constant pressure of your work life is sure to have a positive impact on your attitude and stress levels." Look up tips on meditation and mindful relaxation if you have trouble switching off. Building it into your day when you do go back to work can help your stress levels drop.
6. Take A Day Out
A 'buffer' day can be very helpful for recharging your batteries before you head back to work, if possible. Building one into your vacation schedule might provide some stress relief. "Take one day between returning from the trip and heading back to the office," Darla Ferrara of Prime Women suggests. "Reentry is one of the most challenging tasks and not something you have to jump back into immediately. The best course of action is to give yourself that one day. The break between vacation and the return to work will allow you to catch up on your sleep, get organized at home and go into the office refreshed and ready to work."
Surviving the holiday season can be more difficult for some people than others. However, with a few tips and tricks, you can make it through the post-vacation haze of exhaustion and stress, and have a healthy transition into 'normal' life once again.