Special Report

How to Regain Your Focus After the Holidays, According to Psychologists

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1. Think of time as an investment

We spend so much time getting ready for the holidays and then they are over in just a week, which can be disappointing. The best way to deal with that feeling is to think about the holiday preparation as an investment, according to Sanford. The time you spend decorating, buying gifts, and making plans is really an investment in creating a special experience for you and your loved ones that will continue to pay dividends long after the holidays are over, she noted. “Like all investments, sometimes it doesn’t pay off in the way we hoped, but we can rest in the knowledge that we invested ourselves in something personally meaningful.”

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2. Reflect on the past year

Reflection is the key to making happy memories, experiences, and feelings last, according to Angela Taylor, senior therapist and co-founder of Noyau Wellness Center in Dallas. “Write a list of all of the things you are grateful for — the family you saw, the look on your kids faces, the delicious pie grandma only makes once a year, the warm church service, etc.” Writing them down will help you keep these happy feelings at the forefront of your mind, she noted.

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3. Don’t expect perfection

“It’s important to have compassion for yourself and others about the transition back and not expect perfection,” Sanford said. People may want to disclose too many personal stories, giving out a lot more than just professional information. “If you want to keep things more professional, express empathy or sympathy, and gently redirect the conversation to work matter.”

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4. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for every day

“I feel like this is the best way for me to do it, and you will notice a change in how you perceive and walk through your day because of it,” Taylor said. It’s not that big a number. “You really start looking for things to be grateful for when you know you have to write down 10 at the end of the day.” You’ll start to notice the person who let you in in traffic, the compliment you received, or the way your kid smiled at you when you got home. “This practice can be life changing,” Taylor added.

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5. Spend money on experiences

Studies have shown that people don’t get lasting happiness from buying material possessions, according to Richard Enander, a licensed clinical psychologist in Dallas. “Where you get the most bang for your buck is in buying experiences.” Instead of getting a fancy new toy, put that money towards a vacation. “Now you’ve bought yourself a set of experiences that you will share with select loved ones and, what’s more, you’ll have the memories for a lifetime.”

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