Hold on, dear comrades, a much-needed break is near. Those lazy days in bed with nothing to do but consume hot chocolate and eggnog by the gallon while indulging in mind-numbing programming are almost here. December is looming large.
But December won’t be restful—let’s not kid ourselves. As always, the holiday season is littered with seemingly non-stop social gatherings and late-nights that make short work of any possible recharge plans. Many of us do our best to pick up extra hours at whatever menial day job our schedules allow for, further cutting down on our required reprieve as we try to scrape together some extra dollars for gifts.
Sarcasm aside, the value of copious amounts of socializing shouldn’t be lessened merely because it can be a physical drain. You are recharging—just not necessarily in the manner that is generally thought of.
Humans are social creatures. Whether we’re fortunate enough to have a great number of good friends or just a few, we crave the quality time that can be spent with them. Hanging out is a great reliever of stress and far more important than many believe. Far be it from me to quote some hand-holding hippie, there is a science behind it.
Oxytocin, the hormone related to decreasing our anxiety levels, is the key ingredient here. According to mentalhelp.net, “Stressed people who have adequate levels of social support receive an oxytocin boost which helps them feel less anxious, more confident in their ability to cope, and more drawn to other people (thus perpetuating the positive cycle of social support).” In short, having a chat with your bestie every once in a while isn’t just beneficial for catching up.
It’s a principle that needn’t only be applied to extended breaks. Finding time for the important people in your life is vital during any time of the year—even when you’re busiest. I am definitely no role model, but from personal experience, shorting myself on sleep in order to grab a few hours of chilling often tends to prove more useful than those few precious moments of shuteye.
It just makes sense. We’re better for it when we’re feeling positive and the only way we feel good about ourselves is when there’s something that has given us reason to be so. And when we aren’t busy enjoying ourselves, we need happy memories to power us through—something to hold onto.
There’s definitely a balance to be found though. Inasmuch as becoming a recluse will leave you drained and stressed, so will heading out every night in an attempt to counter the lack of socializing. The resulting dearth of sleep time will cause your work to suffer, and with it, your mental wellbeing. Shoot for one or two nights a week—it doesn’t have to be for long, it just has to happen. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, your emotional self is saving up for the stretch ahead.
So this December go out and party. Paint the town red. Spend what you can of the next day in bed. But be sure to listen to your body!