So, once again, we find ourselves smack in the middle of the holiday season. It seems like it is months away, but then that moment arrives when you start to see the “X amount of days before Christmas” signs popping up at your local mall. This can be a joyous time for many, but it can also be riddled with concerns and anxieties for a multitude of reasons. There are presents to buy, which then branches off to budgeting and actually making the right selections for the right people. There are family members to contend with, which can provide for a heartwarming occasion, but it can also damper the holiday spirit when there are uncomfortable relationships and awkward scenarios. And there is that New Year right around the bend, pressing for resolutions and a closer look at things you may want to change in your life for your general well-being in the upcoming year. For those who may already be suffering from anxiety, this can be an overwhelming time of the year. While we all hope that we can just “let go” and experience this season with our families and friends, it’s not always as simple as it seems. So give a present to yourself — here are 5 tips for well-being in the holiday season.
This is also a trying time for therapists and counselors. They, too, want to spend time with their loved ones during the holidays, but due to their dedication to their patients, they may find themselves adding more sessions to their schedule, and furiously typing away at their therapy notes when they yearn for online shopping and Black Friday sales.
Tips for Well Being in the Holiday Season
However, there are numerous ways to keep your anxiety levels down, allowing for the time and the disposition to really enjoy this magical time of the year. Let’s take a look at a few!
1. Be in Control
Nothing can beat away anxiety quite like the feeling of being in absolute control, and the best way to do this is to plan away! Begin creating a very detailed list of what you have coming up over the holiday season. Whether it be what to bring for the Christmas party at work, potential gifts or details for travel plans, write it all down. As you begin to finish each task on your list, and you are able to check it off, visualize that this is just one more reason to feel anxious that is now removed from the relaxation of your holiday season.
2. Devise the Ultimate Escape Plan
While it may be extremely rude or near impossible to completely skip some of the holiday invitations that you may receive, it doesn’t hurt to arrive armed with a well-thought-out escape strategy. Holiday dinners can really drag on, and the interaction time afterwards could definitely instigate some anxious thought patterns. If you need a few minutes to clear your head or just get a breath, step outside for that “saved by the bell” phone call, or run home to check on pets or a present that you “accidentally” left behind. These are not excuses, but rather ideas on how to spend time with loved ones, also enabling you to fight anxiety and enjoy the moment.
3. Skip the Shopping Fiasco
Of course, everyone wants to purchase presents for their loved ones during the holiday season, as well as for work colleagues or your child’s teacher at school. However, shopping does not need to add to your already rising anxiety levels. Online shopping has become so popular that Cyber Monday may quickly be replacing the craziness of Black Friday. Many stores offer even better deals online, and shipping is typically free during the season, or with a minimum purchase. Imagine leisurely browsing the sites of your favorite stores, rather than spending many stressful hours finding a parking space, searching for items and then standing in line for what seems like days. Are you sold yet?
4. Drink and Eat Wisely
This season is well-known for tales of overeating every sugary confection on the planet and overindulging in the box wine that your aunt never leaves home without. Don’t feel guilty about eating and drinking a bit more than normal, as that it is quite expected during the holiday season. However, this can also be the time to make wise choices for lowering your anxiety. When you your sweet tooth begins to beckon, opt for dark chocolate, which has been known to lower anxiety levels. And you’re perfectly safe with that wine, especially if you prefer red and plan to stick to one or two glasses. Caffeine can also heighten feelings of anxiety, so watch your consumption of coffee, tea and caffeinated sodas.
5. Stick to Your Therapy Schedule
This may seem like a given, especially during a time period when you may be experiencing more anxiety than normal. However, for those engaged in therapy, this is not the moment to think, “I’m too busy this week, so I can skip my session, just this once.” Breaking a routine can also add undue anxiety, and this may be the session that produces a breakthrough that will be your rock during awkward family get-togethers and crowded Christmas parties at work.
When bracing yourself for the anxiety that can accompany the holiday season, stop for a moment to see the positive side of the weeks ahead. The holidays are a time for forgiveness and for mending broken bonds with loved ones. They are a time for unity and closeness that a bit of good cheer can conjure up within a matter of moments. But most importantly, they are a time to be good to yourself. Learn to apply these tips for beating anxiety and anxious thoughts throughout the entire year, and this could be the best holiday present of all.
Author Biography: Angela Ash is the Content Manager for Mentegram, a mental healthcare technology company that is bridging the gap between patients and their therapists with products like Mentegram Notes. They have helped over 200 therapists provide better care to more than 1,500 of their patients. Angela is also a professional article writer and editor, specializing in online content and authoritative blog topics. Her additional therapy-related content may be found at https://mentegram.com/blog.