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Phoenix Forward

5 ways to come back from the holidays refreshed

Reduce stress during the holidays

If you’re like a lot of people, your list of holiday experiences may include activities like eating three pieces of pumpkin pie, shopping too much, sleeping on your mother’s fold-out sofa and indulging in a football-watching marathon with members of your extended family. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But you might consider tweaking several aspects of your seasonal schedule so that you can return from the holidays feeling refreshed, suggests Leslie Baker, a licensed marriage and family therapist and instructor in the master's in counseling program at the University of Phoenix Bay Area Campus.

Here are five tips to help prevent the need for a “real” vacation after your holiday vacation:


Get enough sleep.

While traveling or hosting loved ones, your sleep can be thrown way off schedule, and lack of sleep is one of the first things to affect your mental health, Baker says. “In addition to all the fun, make sure you are also getting the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep adults require.”


Establish a holiday budget.

By taking a good look at your finances and setting a strict budget ahead of time, you can avoid winding up financially overwhelmed in January. In addition, handmade gifts can feel warm and personal. “A nicely wrapped gift of six cookies won’t wind up in the giveaway pile like a lot of other seasonal knickknacks,” Baker explains.


Create new rituals.

For anyone suffering a recent loss, such as death or divorce, the holidays can be a time when your feelings don’t match the cheery mood of the season. “If this holiday is going to look very different than holidays you used to have, consider creating new rituals,” Baker suggests.

For example, if this is the first holiday without your kids for dinner, you might consider inviting other people who don’t have an “extended family” to share a festive meal with. “Do something that is meaningful to you, even though it may not look like what everyone else is doing,” Baker recommends.


Schedule time for yourself.

Even while you have family in town or are staying with relatives, it’s important to take time to be alone. “Go for a walk in your parents’ neighborhood, or go get your nails done,” Baker says. “Don’t make every activity a group activity.”


Put something positive on the calendar.

For some people, the end of the holiday season is a letdown. Maybe you have to say goodbye to loved ones you don’t see often, or perhaps you’re simply sad that the festivities are over and it’s time to go back to work. It’s easier to transition back to your routine if you have something to look forward to in the new year.

“January is a good time to start something,” Baker says. “Enroll in a new class or make a commitment to learn something new.”

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