With the holidays finally over, we can now look back, past the decorations, the leftovers of leftovers, and the bits of Chex mix and wrapping paper we keep pulling from the couch.
With the extended family in their cars after promising that yes, they will watch for deer, we can now take a breath and analyze something we generally ignore during the holiday season – our will to live.
The stretch between mid-November and Christmas is as stressful to the average American as trench warfare and tallies nearly as many casualties. The gift anxiety, the money spent, the travel, the cooking, seeing people we don't see often for a reason? Yikes. Why do we do this to ourselves?
The American Psychological Association tells us people undergo more stress during the holidays than at any other time of the year.
Of course we undergo stress between Thanksgiving and Christmas; a "Rebel Alliance attacking the Death Star" level of stress. I think that's where Boxing Day comes in. Although the British claim this Dec. 26 holiday originated to celebrate the people who worked on Christmas by giving them boxes of gifts the day after, it actually began as a way to relieve stress by punching the crap out of Uncle Joe for leaving the bathroom door open when he poops.
Apart from appropriately celebrating Boxing Day (I would recommend watching "Rocky IV" for inspiration), there are other ways to relieve the stress of the season. Just follow these five holiday relaxation techniques from Jason Offutt, licensed psychotherapist (who is in no way an actual licensed psychotherapist):
1. Get blackout drunk. If you start drinking in the morning, by the time the family arrives, you'll be so far in you won't realize the guy Cousin Jenna brought was just released from prison. What was he in for? Who cares? You're going to pass out before anyone leaves and not remember most of the day anyway.
2. Ghost the holiday. Greet everyone at the door, then leave. Whenever someone asks where you are, they'll assume you're either in the bathroom, on the phone with a distant relative, or stepped out for a smoke, when you're actually at the movies.
3. Commit yourself to a mental institution. You get a warm bed, pajamas, much-needed rest and counseling, and the food's good – at least while you're on medication.
4. Faux-travel. Mysterious business trips are one of the best excuses to miss the holidays, so fly to some godforsaken part of the country that's expecting a winter storm. Spending a few days snowed in at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport is preferable to spending any amount of time with the people you love.
5. Fake your own death. This method takes the most amount of preparation. New identity, new city, new job and a way to disappear that won't require a body. The danger with faking your own death isn't getting caught, it's falling in with a brand-new family you'll just have to avoid next season.
So go out there and enjoy the rest of the year. The holidays will be back upon us before we know it.
– Jason’s newest book, “Chasing American Monsters: 251 Creatures, Cryptids, and Hairy Beasts,” is available at jasonoffutt.com.