The holidays are supposed to be warm, glorious periods of reconnecting with friends and family, embracing gratitude, and enjoying the sights, scents, and unique sensibilities of the season. But the increased expectations, heightened frenzy of events, and unwitting pressure to be merry and bright can exacerbate depression and especially anxiety.
With the holidays on the way, how can you prepare for the inevitable stress?
Take Control Of Your Schedule
Gatherings with family and friends can be lovely, but if the amount of social obligations is choking you, consider paring them down. You don’t have to attend every party to which you’re invited. You may annoy a relative or two, but you can always promise another meet-up when the busy holidays have passed. Your mental health deserves consideration. ‘No’ is a very liberating word.
Also reconsider all expectations. Just because you threw a fabulous dinner party during the last holiday season doesn’t mean you’re obligated to throw one this year. If the neighborhood crowd still wants to get together, maybe it’s time for someone else to host the event.
During the holiday season, you’re likely to spend a lot of time hunting down gifts for your family and friends and holiday exchanges. If the crush of the shopping mall gives you anxiety, consider the many options to browse online. Also start a gift list and shop early. Those who complete their gift-buying by Thanksgiving remove a lot of stress from the winter holidays.
Food and drink tend to flow during the holidays, but over-indulging is likely to make you feel worse in the long run. Lowering anxiety means keeping on an even keel, so consider making a concerted effort to limit your alcohol and rum-ball intake during those holiday parties.
Keep Up The Good Workout
Although it may be hard, maintaining a regular sleep and exercise schedule can also help lessen anxiety during the holiday season. Your body needs the endorphins to lower cortisol and adrenaline and thus keep anxiety at bay.
The most difficult source of holiday anxiety isn’t always about over-scheduling and overindulging. Just getting together with family can stir up a lot of conflicted feelings.
If you have unresolved, underlying issues with people you only see during the holidays, you’re likely to become anxious about the inevitable contact during the season. No amount of preparation can shield you from every difficult situation, but you can control how you react to it.
It’s good advice to keep your expectations low and embrace the spirit of kindness and charity. Few big issues are ever resolved in high-stress, compressed-time gatherings. If you must attend an event that is likely to erupt, prepare for the possibility of escape if anxiety reaches a fever pitch.
Easing anxiety during the holiday season doesn’t just have to be about cutting back on social events and obligations. Another way to lessen stress is to plan to do more of what you love, whether it be cooking, getting a quick coffee with an old friend, or singing in a choir. Joy is a wonderful antidote to anxiety.