by Henry Moore, guest author
Even if you love the holidays and spending time with your family, it’s completely normal to struggle with anxiety during this hectic time of year. According to Bustle, “three quarters of Americans experience increased anxiety and depression during the holidays.” On top of the challenges of everyday life, the season brings along added financial stress, traveling, and increased pressure from loved ones.
Here are some tips to help you cope with your anxiety and enjoy the holidays as best you can.
Make time for yourself.
While the holiday’s encourage endless bouts of selflessness, it’s important that you take care of yourself too. Remember that you don’t have to say yes to everything. Be careful to pick and choose important family functions and take a timeout from the rest when needed. Because this time of year is notorious for colds and flu season, make sure to get enough rest and drink lots of water. While it can be easy to take refuge in all the goodies that surround you, don’t overindulge and make yourself sick. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, step outside and enjoy the fresh air and peace and quiet.
Let your family know what you’re going through so they can better understand your anxiety, exude patience, as well as help you cope. Find someone you can really talk to, wether it be a significant other that can attend holiday events with you, or a friend you can reach out to via a text or phone call. If you feel like you don’t have anyone, perhaps seek help from a therapist. Either way, it’s important to keep a support group in place so you don’t feel alone and prevent the holiday season from becoming an unnecessary ball of stress and anxiety.
Even though controlling everything may seem like it will reduce your anxiety, realistically you can’t do it all yourself. Delegate some of the preparation tasks such as shopping, cooking, decorating, and cleaning to others without expecting perfection. Though you may have tension with some of your family members, set aside your differences and acknowledge what you cannot control. Don’t let your spending take charge. Instead, create a budget, setting a spending limit on each person and sticking to it. You can also all agree to donate to charity in lieu of gifts, or do a family exchange (aka secret santa). Instead of cooking for everyone, try a potluck and enjoy each family member’s specialty dishes.
Use healthy coping mechanisms.
Attending family functions often means being inundated with personal questions and small talk. It can also be really noisy and full of large groups of people you haven’t even seen in awhile. Don’t reach for unhealthy ways to ease your anxiety such as alcohol and other harmful substances. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America encourages people to stay away from alcohol because it can “aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.” Instead find time to disappear every once in awhile to calm yourself, or stay busy by volunteering to help out in the kitchen. If you’re in addiction recovery, practice what you’ll say if someone offers you a drink and try taking the focus off of you by asking questions of others as most people like to talk about themselves.
In order to fully enjoy the holidays, prevent a breakdown by knowing what triggers your anxiety and coming up with strategies to combat feelings of stress and depression. Don’t stretch yourself too thin and focus on what you like about this time of year. A positive outlook will go a long way in managing your mental health.
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Originally posted 2017-10-31 11:54:20.
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