The holidays are full of food, friendship, family, and cheer—but they can also bring forth some stress and anxiety. With financial pressure, parties, gift-giving, and cooking, some of us tend to be on edge during the holiday months. This year, don’t let worry ruin your holiday. Here are some tips to help focus your plans and get you through the festivities unscathed:
1. Organize your schedule
During the holidays, our schedules tend to fill up. With parties, special occasions, and family get-togethers, things can get pretty busy. Whether you are hosting or attending an event, it is important that you plan ahead.
What to do: Get a calendar, notepad, or create a note in your phone to keep track of all obligations. If you need to bring a dish or give a gift, make a note so you know exactly what you need.
2. Identify your triggers and plans accordingly
Sometimes the holidays can be anything but merry. If you recently experienced a loss or went through a tough situation, spending time with family or celebrating can be incredibly draining. If the holidays make you emotional for any reason, take a moment to identify some triggers to these feelings. Once you figure out what makes you uncomfortable, you can make a plan for dealing with it.
What to do: If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, pick a tradition that you can do to honor that person (make their favorite dish or mention them in a toast). You may also want to break away from the traditions that remind you of your loved one. But don’t feel like you need to be jolly. Think ahead to what you can do or say if you start to feel triggered. Excuse yourself and practice deep breathing to help calm your nervous system. And don’t forget: It is totally acceptable to be selective about what events you attend or respectfully decline.
3. Don’t skip self-care
The end of the year is a crazy time for most people. If you’re in school, you’re probably prepping for finals. If you have a career, you’re probably trying to tie up loose ends before the holidays. If you’re buying gifts, planning a party, or getting ready to travel, you are probably dealing with your fair share of chaos too. With everything going on, make sure that you are staying in a consistent self-care routine.
What to do: Exercise, drink water, eat healthily, and get enough sleep. If you find yourself getting stressed, make room in your schedule for a new book, some episodes of a TV show, your favorite food, or some time with people that you enjoy. If you find a good balance between the things you need to do and the things you want to do, you’ll be on track after the holidays to start the new year off in a positive mindset.
4. Take a moment and enjoy
This is probably the easiest and quickest thing you can do to help decrease anxiety— but often, it is forgotten. The holidays can be overwhelming but they can also be beautiful and exciting. Make some time to see a holiday display or show, or just do something fun. Take a moment to breathe in everything around you, literally.
What to do: Breathe! This is the most effective way to slow things down, calm your nervous system, and give your thoughts a moment to catch up with your emotions. A few deep breaths can give you the clarity and ability to access our problem solving or coping skills when we are feeling anxious.
Practicing these tips can greatly help decrease stress and anxiety around the holidays, but if you feel like you are not able to control your worried thoughts, please reach out and talk to someone. Talking to a trusted friend or family member or discussing your triggers and coping strategies with a therapist can be helpful. If you’re looking for mental health help, reach out to your primary care physician or look online. There are so many resources out there to help you!
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