Every online ad, radio announcement, and TV commercial insists that the holidays are a wonderful time of year, full of friends and family, good feeling and great gatherings, fine food, and merry spirits. But for many people, and for many reasons, the holidays are a time of stress and anxiety.
So how can you best deal with holiday anxiety?
Pinpoint The Pressures
For those with generalized anxiety, the high expectations of the season can naturally heighten levels of anxiety. The prospect of party after party can be daunting for someone for whom socialization is a strain. The additional worries of the season, such as finding the right gift, getting the shopping done on time, cooking for a large group, and budgetary issues can pile onto the usual worries and make you feel overwhelmed.
Even for those who aren’t usually afflicted with anxiety, the prospect of the busy days to come can bring some of the same troubling symptoms. These include excessive worry, irritability, insomnia, bellyaches, nausea, restlessness, fatigue, and fear, among others, which can leach the joy from the season.
If you can pinpoint the pressures that cause particular worry, you may be able to make a few adjustments to ease the stress. For example:
- Plan Ahead. If you feel time pressure when shopping, consider doing your holiday shopping throughout the year instead, to spread out both the expense and the stress.
- Be Crafty. If you cook, knit, sew, or cast pots in clay, consider saving your budget by baking or making handcrafted gifts for friends and family.
- Share The Load. Delegate some holiday tasks to your spouse or children, such as buying mums or decorating your home. Turn Thanksgiving into a pot luck so you only have to make the turkey.
- Pace Yourself. You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every invitation, it’s a busy time for everyone.
- Shop Online. If venturing into a crowded mall is just too much, do your shopping in your pajamas and let the packages be delivered to your doorstep.
- Go Electronic. More and more people have opted to send personalized holiday eCards to friends and family. This will save you time, postage, and the cost of cards.
It’s impossible to avoid stress and anxiety entirely, but you can anticipate and minimize it. Check out these tips:
- Stick with your usual daily routine as much as possible.
- Avoid excess in food and drink.
- Avoid excess spending.
- Maintain your exercise and sleep regiments.
- Accept that things will occasionally go wrong.
- Accept that this will be a stressful time but it won’t last forever.
- Spend time with someone who makes you laugh.
- Spend a little time in the sun, or under a sun lamp, especially if you suffer from SAD.
- Take time to de-stress yourself, through meditation, a massage, or just some time relaxing with a cup of tea.
Stress and anxiety are inevitable in life, but you can manage your response to it. With a little planning and self-care, your holidays might just turn out to be as joyous as can be.