Contentedly into the new year without needless stress

Article

07. 12. 2023

The end of the year is a time that naturally prompts us to look back at the past 12 months and to think about what awaits us in the coming year. The arrival of the new year brings new resolutions that help us to formulate our goals and plans for the future. Many of us set for ourselves the goal of improving our lifestyle, developing new skills or focusing more on our family and friends. However, this time of the year is also marked by stress caused by the hectic pre-Christmas period, when we strive to juggle shopping for gifts, preparing holiday meals and planning get-togethers with our loved ones. PhDr. Lucie Skalíková, Head of psychology, psychiatry and logopaedics at Canadian Medical is here to advise us on how to find a balanced approach so that we can enjoy cheerful moments at the end of the year while preserving our peace and contentment.

People perceive the end of the year and the beginning of the new year as a very stressful period. Can you give us some tips on how to get through this time in peace and in a good mental state?

You’re right that some people experience the end of the year as a stressful time. This can be caused by increased work requirements, when it is necessary to finish tasks and meet deadlines, or greater social demands, whether in one’s family or among friends and colleagues. In order for us to get this hectic time under control, we have to make a plan of everything that we want to get done at the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. Try to break tasks down into smaller goals, what you need to do immediately and in the coming days, and plan out where you are heading from a long-term perspective. It’s not necessary to be perfect; accepting your weaknesses and imperfection can be liberating. Don’t be afraid to get your family involved; you are not the only one who is responsible for how you get through the Christmas holidays. Keep in mind that that your loved ones appreciate the fact that you are together more than the fact that you have more beautiful decorations than your neighbours. If you expect something from others, communicate that to them directly; don’t expect them to know how to read your mind. Find time to recall and appreciate what turned out well for you this year and how far you have come. Your successes did not just happen automatically or by themselves; you were the one who worked and made them happen. And don’t forget about yourself or your loved ones. Relax a lot and focus on the people and activities that you love and perhaps have neglected during the year.

Especially before Christmas, people can get the feeling from the media and social networks that they have to get everything done and have everything perfectly prepared, and that if they don't manage to do that, they have failed. Do more clients contact you during this period, as they find themselves in this situation?

We are seeing steady strong demand for the services of psychologists and psychiatrists. Of course, the end of the year is a period of heightened stress, which is demanding with respect not only to performance, but also relationships. Increased demand at our clinics often does not become obvious until January, when the rush abates and the reality of unfulfilled expectations and escalating family conflicts becomes fully apparent. Demand is not extremely variable at this time, though I believe that is primarily due to the rising rate of flu and COVID infections. It’s true that some clients may feel that they are under pressure to present the perfect atmosphere, whether that involves Christmas preparations, gifts or celebrations. The Christmas season is certainly an issue that frequently comes up in therapy, as old memories and current expectations are brought to the surface.

How should we approach New Year’s resolutions? Is it appropriate to make them? Do you recommend, for example, making a list and accomplishing the items on it?

New Year’s resolutions help us to reflect on what we are not completely satisfied with and what we would like to change. They motivate us to take an active approach to making changes and inspire us to not give up. Setting goals that are too big and non-specific increases the risk that we will not manage to accomplish them. Be specific and define your goals in a positive way. Set smaller tasks for yourself. Think of them as a series of increasingly high altitude camps that will help you reach the summit. Keeping track of completed tasks and successes helps us to see progress and to not lose hope when we have the feeling that “nothing” is going our way.  The word “nothing” then dissolves into, for example, a particular number of exercises or words learned in a new language. Find a partner to join you in your efforts. You can support and push each other to perform better and to not lose your head when things don’t go according to expectations. And keep in mind that goals can change; life is colourful and dynamic. New Year’s resolutions are not an obligation; they are something that we decide to do for ourselves.

We encounter the term “wellbeing” increasingly often. Can you explain to us what that’s about?

Wellbeing is a state of contentment, psychological balance, satisfaction with life. It is a complex state that includes the physical, psychological and social aspects of our lives. A state of being in good physical condition, eating and sleeping well, feeling psychologically resilient, having good relationships with oneself and with others. Personally, for example, I live in an environment that I consider to be healthy, pursue activities that I consider to be meaningful and I have sufficient resources for living.

         

PhDr. Lucie Skalíková, Head of psychology, psychiatry and logopaedics at Canadian Medical

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