A Vacation from the Vacation
What to Do When Holidays Leave You Feeling Drained.
By Kamara Tayo, Jones,
MSW, RSW, BA Sc
It’s that busy time of the year when work, social and family obligations might just overlap and our time and energy resources become limited. During the holiday season we have so many opportunities to connect with those in our lives to form meaningful memories, participate in holiday rituals and have some good old-fashioned fun.
When the holidays are over we can often feel like we need a vacation from our vacation. That is a good indication that our time and energy are in short supply and we need a plan to rejuvenate ourselves.
Here are some options to consider when needing to recover and restore our health and wellbeing.
- Be Still. Take time to listen to your thoughts without judgment, guilt and shame. Just recognize what the thoughts are and how they make you feel.
- Deep breathing. Have a seat and relax your body. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH. Take a deep breath in and while you do so notice the feeling of the air filling your lungs and the reactions of your body. Then slowly exhale and notice the feeling of the air leaving your lungs and the reactions of your body. Now you are focused on your breathing and repeat this rhythmically for a few minutes until you feel relaxed.
- Progressive Relaxation. Find a comfortable seat and sit down with your feet touching the floor. Take-in a deep breath. Relax your body and close your eyes as you exhale. With each breath in, focus on a group of muscles, tense the muscles and then release the tension when you exhale. Gradually work your way down from your head and face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, torso, hips, legs, and then finally your feet. At the end of this experience, you have progressively relaxed each part of your body. To help with visualization, try to picture a cool blue light moving through you as each muscle group tenses and relaxes. That cool blue light can leave your body at the tips of your toes. And you are finished!
- Rest and rest well. A good night’s sleep can go a long way to help us feel rested and ready for the activities of the day. If that is not enough then consider a rest period or a nap. Resting effectively means finding a comfortable place, controlling distractions and allowing your body and mind opportunities to reconnect. That means turning off the screens, seeking silence or calm music and using methods of relaxation such as those discussed above. If you feel the need to sleep, take a short nap earlier in the day to avoid disrupting your natural sleep schedule. Set a timer for 30 minutes or less and allow yourself a chance to fall asleep. Upon waking, stretch your body, drink a glass of water and get ready for the rest of your day.
- Take time to reconnect with yourself. What about that book you wanted to read? Or the movie you wanted to watch? Take time to engage yourself in an activity that makes you feel good, calm and rested. That can mean a massage, dinner alone, a walk in the community, a yoga session, or whatever your heart desires. Just remember, it must be safe and meaningful to you.
- Build on success. Remember how you felt when you did something really well. There is that feeling that you’ve accomplished a task, did something you have been putting-off or simply crossed something off your never-ending to-do list. Maybe today is the day that will happen. When you finally do it, you just might feel relief and peace that it is finally done. Find ways to help you achieve that success and repeat as needed.
- Laugh and laugh some more. Laughter will release tension and relieve stress. It triggers the release of endorphins which help your body feel good. Laughter has rhythm and relies on an audible sound and physical movement. It is exercise for our brain and body. Watch something funny such as the animals out in the community or a funny program. Listen to comedy on a podcast or radio show. Play a game with your family and friends. Relish in the moment of joy and take that feel-good feeling with you on the rest of your day.
Kamara holds a Master’s of Social Work degree and a Bachelor of Arts & Science degree in psychology. She is a registered social worker with the Manitoba College of Social Workers and has worked in health and social services for over 21 years. Kamara has been an instructor for the University of Manitoba and provided mental health services in regional health programs. In her current role, she supports clients to manage chronic diseases, promote healthy behaviour change, and improve healthy living.