New Year, No Stress, Part I

PacMed doctor explains how to stay cool for the New Year

By Allegra Antwine on December 28, 2017

Although the allure of the New Year offers a fresh slate and a chance for new beginnings, stress abounds as plans are formed, preparations are put in order and reflections are made. With the holiday season coming to a close, tensions may be shifted to the upcoming new year. Pacific Medical Center Psychotherapist Chia-Wen Moon, LMHC, has some sound advice for coping with post-holiday stress, making it easier to embrace 2018 with open arms.

The holiday season can be a stressful time -- so can the time after. How do you suggest people combat this stress to make the new year run as smoothly as possible?

Oftentimes, we set high expectations for ourselves during the holiday season and spread ourselves too thin. Between holiday shopping, gifting, cooking and hosting large family dinners, the pressures of finances, constantly socializing and having little downtime can create stress and anxiety. Sometimes after the holiday "high" of getting together with family and loved ones, going back to a normal routine can be difficult.

Here are some ideas to reduce anxiety going into the holidays to ensure you kick off 2018 with ease and confidence.

  • Set realistic expectations. After the rush of the holidays, it will take some time to get back into a normal routine. Start by setting realistic expectations and redefine a routine that works with your post-holiday schedule, while still allowing time for rest and relaxation.
  • Don't compare yourself to others. During the holiday season, there is always pressure to get the nicest, best gifts, which can result in feelings of anxiety and defeat if you're unable to afford expensive gifts. This year, let go of those negative thoughts and focus on being grateful for what you have -- family, health and positive progress -- and remind yourself that these gifts are much more valuable than material things.
  • Spend time on yourself. While the season of giving is centered on serving others, the new year is a time to focus on yourself. Reflect on your personal goals and set aside time to focus on what's important to you, including relaxation, meaningful social time, sleep and self-care. Plan ahead and schedule a fun day with friends to give yourself something to look forward to.
  • Get outside and move. We all know that the holidays are a time for indulging in comfort foods and baked treats, and casual exercise can help you balance your health during the holidays and into the new year. Regular exercise -- even 10 minutes of walking during work breaks and opting to take the stairs -- can have a noticeable effect on energy levels and overall health.

What steps and planning can be made in advance to lessen the burden once January rolls around?

To set yourself up for success going into the new year, it's important to practice time-management skills and budgeting to ensure you have proper time to tackle your to-do list and reduce any last-minute stress. Developing a holiday spending budget will also help alleviate any finance stressors and keep you feeling cool and calm when purchasing gifts.

After the holiday celebrations have concluded, rally your family members to help take down any holiday decorations, help with dishes or clean up leftover food. Delegating responsibilities will get everyone involved and will help you feel at ease knowing there is shared responsibility.

Part 2, Embrace 2018 with open arms, will run in next week's paper

Chia-Wen Moon, LMHC

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Read more about the author, Chia-Wen Moon, LMHC or call for an appointment: (206) 621-4045 .