Although the holiday season can be a very festive time of the year, it can bring about a whirlwind of emotions, including joy, excitement, and for many, anxiety. While this time of the year is meant for celebration and togetherness, the pressure to meet expectations, navigate family dynamics, and manage numerous commitments can lead to increased stress and anxiety. If you find yourself feeling highly anxious during this time, know that you're not alone. I’ve compiled a list of 10 strategies to help you navigate and hopefully alleviate some of the anxiety that comes during the holiday season.
Practice Mindfulness: Amidst the hustle and bustle, taking moments to ground yourself through mindfulness can be very useful. You can engage in deep breathing exercises, meditation, or mindful walking to bring your attention to the present moment. Being mindful can help reduce racing thoughts, minimize worries about the past or future, and bring a sense of calm.
Set Boundaries: It's okay to set boundaries to protect your mental well-being. You can gracefully say no to commitments that may overwhelm you. Prioritize events and gatherings that are most important to you and respectfully decline those that might worsen your anxiety.
Manage Expectations: Unrealistic expectations, whether self-imposed or societal, can often contribute to holiday stress. Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of good. You can learn to embrace imperfections and understand that it's okay if everything doesn't go as planned. Allow yourself and others the grace to enjoy the moment without the pressure of perfection.
Plan and Organize: Create a manageable and realistic schedule and plan ahead. You can make lists, set a budget, and organize tasks to avoid last-minute stress. Planning can help you feel more in control and reduce anxiety about forgetting or overlooking important details.Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to others. You can share holiday responsibilities with family members or friends whenever possible. Sharing the load can ease the stress of planning.
Practice Self-care: Amidst the holiday chaos, make sure to prioritize your wellbeing and self-care. Get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, implement movement in your routine, and engage in activities that bring you joy. Taking care of yourself physically and emotionally can significantly reduce anxiety levels.
Create Meaningful Traditions: Focus on creating meaningful and enjoyable traditions that bring joy and fulfillment. Whether it's volunteering, starting a new tradition with loved ones, or engaging in hobbies or games that you love, find activities that resonate with you and your loved ones.
Limit Social Media and Screen Time: Comparing your holiday experiences to the curated versions presented on social media can add fuel to the fire of anxiety. Consider taking breaks from social media and limiting screen time to maintain a healthier perspective and reduce feelings of inadequacy.
Practice Gratitude: Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can shift your focus from stressors to the positive aspects of the holiday season. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate the things you're thankful for.
Be Kind to Yourself: Be compassionate towards yourself. Remember that it's normal to feel overwhelmed during this time. Celebrate small victories, practice self-compassion, and acknowledge all your efforts in managing your anxiety.
Professional Assistance: Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable. Therapy and counseling can provide great tools to help you cope with holiday-related stress. Sometimes sharing your feelings with someone you trust can provide perspective and alleviate stress.
The holidays can be a challenging time for those dealing with anxiety, but implementing these strategies can help make your season less stressful and more enjoyable. By prioritizing your mental health and adopting these coping mechanisms, you can create a more serene and fulfilling holiday experience for yourself and your loved ones. I’m wishing you all a restful and fulfilling holiday season!
If you would like to schedule a complimentary consultation with a therapist at Safe Space Counseling in California, please request an appointment here.
Author: Dulce Rivera