• Mary Williams

Are You Experiencing the Holiday Hangover?

Updated: Dec 31, 2018

Did you look like this once family and friends left?

“Bye Hon! See you again this time next year.”

“It was so good to see you. I hate that you have to go now.”

“My God! I ate way too much!”

“I need to cut down on the alcohol. I don’t even remember what happened last night. Why is everybody looking at me like I’m crazy. Where’s my left shoe at? Who stole my left shoe?!”

For many weeks and months, many of us prepared ourselves for the big celebration of Thanksgiving and Christmas which involves having family and friends from near and far gather into our homes where food is being piled high onto our plates and beverages are being poured nonstop. We prepare ourselves by spending more money than we budgeted in order to capture the smile of the gift receiver. However, after the last guest, family member, and friend leave from your dwelling, you are hit with the reality of dirty dishes piled high in the dishwasher, empty boxes and wrapping paper stacked in the corner of the room, excited children yelling with pleasure over their gifts, leftover food in the refrigerator that you have no desire to eat and please don’t forget that monstrous tree standing in your living room with the tangled chords of lights, and the glittered and glowing decorations waiting for you to place it neatly back into its box (faux tree) or set it outside on the curb. Then your mind starts to ruminate over the debt that was made and the bills that will come in 30 days. You made a lot of sacrifices in order to create an unforgettable Christmas for you and your loved ones. Finally, you plop down exhausted into the nearest chair your body can find and you let out the greatest sigh that draw stares from your children, your partner, and can be heard by the neighbors three houses down.

So, what is the Christmas Hangover? In my professional opinion, it is the distressful emotional effects that come after a most joyous and momentous occasion that carried great expectations and this holiday event was full of excitement that you experienced with a close group of people. After the hugs and kisses, the unwrapping of the gifts, the laughter, and the games, it is painful to say goodbye to the people who you love and may only see once a year. The emotional effects of a holiday hangover varies from sadness, regrets, disappointment to annoyance and frustration. Distressful emotions can be felt in the body which can manifest as headaches, upset stomach, body aches, and panic attacks.

How do you deal with a holiday hangover or a Christmas hangover? Here are a few suggestions I can give you. However, you may have some strategies I may not have thought of so please share. Here are my suggestions:

1. Develop your own personal meaning about the holidays and allow the meaning to determine how you approach the holiday and the activities you create for your family and friends.

2. Set a budget. Set a budget. Set a budget. Follow your budget. Stick to your budget. Do not make excuses for breaking your budget.

3. Communicate often with your loved ones and friends throughout the year and even plan small little trips to visit each other.

4. Since they are family and friends, I don’t think they would mind helping you clean up and organize the house before they leave. Loving friends and family members will always chip in and be helpful if you ask.

5. Limit your alcohol consumption and do not misuse prescription drugs or illicit substances.

6. If you can, take several days off from work following Christmas so that you can recuperate and rest before heading back to work.

You may be saying to yourself, “I know all of this. But every Christmas, things never goes as planned and I experience this major let down after the festivities end.” So, it is good that you have insight and awareness into the struggles you experience every year. Despite your efforts to change certain behaviors, you continue to end up with the same results. Sometimes having an extra set of eyes from a professional looking at your issues can be most beneficial.

If you are experiencing the holiday hangover that has caused you sadness, regret, or frustration, I would like to offer you a free 15 minute phone consultation to discuss these matters. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in addictions, trauma informed care, treatments for depression, anxiety and anger issues, relationship issues, and suicide prevention and intervention. I have been practicing for 20 years.

Please take some time now and evaluate where you are emotionally and mentally following the holidays. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Take a healthy risk today and declare that you matter and call. I look forward to speaking with you.

Mary Williams, LPC, LCAS, MAC, CCTP, CSI

Issues of Life Professional Counseling Services, PLLC

Greensboro, NC

(336) 203-5212 or traumainformed@hushmail.com

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