As much as we love the holidays, they can put a lot of stress on our mental health. The planning and preparations can really wipe a person out. It is important for you to find ways to plan ahead early so that you can enjoy your holidays stress-free. Remember that there are anxiety treatment programs available to help if you are feeling overwhelmed by the holidays.
It should come as no surprise that many people experience anxiety during the holidays. We are set up with impossible expectations of happiness depicted in commercials, movies and TV shows. Everywhere are images of happy people doing fun things with family. No one seems to have a care in the world as they celebrate the holidays with total abandon. There are no tensions or arguments. It’s a perfect world of joy and kindness.
In real life, we all have issues that interfere with our holiday cheer. When we can’t live up to the expectations of a perfect holiday season, we are disappointed, angry and sad. Some of us can shrug these feelings off and manage to make the best of it. Others, however, are deeply effected for a variety of reasons.
The Triggers for Anxiety
While holidays can be a joyous time for many, it can be a stressful time if you have anxiety. It involves buying gifts, making any travel plans, reserving revenues for parties or holding your own at your house, any cooking, cleaning, or finding entertainment. Holidays may be stressful but it does not have to be as stressful as you make it. Sometimes, what may seem like a big deal in your head can in real life be very simple.
First of all, you do not need to try so hard to impress anyone during the holidays. Make things easier for yourself and do not overwork yourself with cooking. To take the load off, hold a potluck dinner instead where people bring their favorite traditional dish. You can make the main course like chicken or turkey and let everyone else bring sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, desserts, etc.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
Instead of going store to store to buy presents for each of your relatives, buy them gift cards so that they can use it to buy whatever they want. It is also important that you remember to say no. If there are too many demands placed on you and there is too much planning, let someone help you. Hire a cleaning crew or someone to do the cooking. You can also choose not to hold the party this year and let someone else do it.
Another important thing to consider during the holidays is that you may be so busy taking care of your guests that you forget to take care of yourself. Make sure that you are eating healthy meals, getting seven to eight hours of sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding caffeine. Keeping all of your anxieties and worries to yourself will make yourself sick. Set aside specific time to worry.
Write It Down
When you worry, write down on a piece of paper everything that is troubling you so you can see for yourself how much you are dealing with. Then, write down solutions to your worries. For example, if you are worried because you have a lot of traveling preparations to make, plan in advance the arrangements such as look for lodgings on one day and then pick your flight on the next day. In those 15 minutes that you set aside to worry, take a nice walk outside, listen to calming music, or light a scented candle for a soothing aroma.
If you are aware of which tasks will be the most time consuming or a bother to do, plan ahead. Set aside days to do your shopping. Set aside another day to do cooking and plan the menu. Then another day to hire people for preparations or cleaning up.
Do not try to do too much in one day or you will feel overwhelmed. You can also plan ahead what to do if your anxiety symptoms appear.
Take a Break
If you feel overwhelmed during your holiday party, do not be afraid to excuse yourself and go outside to take a deep breath and then come back inside when you are ready. You can also do deep breathing or listen to a song on your phone that will put you in a better mood. You can ask one of your friends or relatives to keep an eye on you and give you a signal when you need their support the most or a nice hug to keep you more at ease.
Plan Out Your Budget
You can also plan out your budget. If you have a habit of overspending during the holidays and then feeling lousy after, make a spending limit. If you do not know what kind of present to buy, do not buy any. If there is a charity that is important to your friend or relative, make a donation in someone’s name. You can also make a homemade gift for someone whether it is making a cd, a scrapbook, knitting them clothing, etc.
Most importantly, remember that the holidays are a time to enjoy yourself. Find something to look forward to about seeing friends and relatives that will make you excited.
It could be that you cannot wait to hear your friend’s jokes or you cannot wait to taste your mom’s turkey. Let these thoughts take over the anxious ones. Accept your friends or family for what they are. If you have that relative that likes to stir up drama or says things that are inappropriate, just ignore what they have to say or leave the room so you do not have to hear anymore.
Create New Traditions If Necessary
If you are used to old traditions and they do not work out this year, be open to new ones. For example, if it is normally tradition to cook but you are too busy to do that, go to a nice restaurant with your loved ones that have holiday specials.
If these problems continue to persist closer to the event, go see a professional so that you can plan with him or her what to do in advance. By carefully planning your holidays and allowing yourself to have fun, you surely will by the end of the night.
Anxiety Treatment Programs Can Help
Recovering from anxiety disorder made worse by the holidays is possible. You just need help.
Located in Tacoma, Washington, Bayview Recovery’s mission is to offer clinically-driven programs and services to treat a number of substance abuse disorders along with anxiety and depression using cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, trauma therapy, yoga therapy, and more for a successful recovery.
Don’t let anxiety run your life. There’s a better way to get through each day. For more information, please call us at 855.478.3650. We’re open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.