It’s the season of cheer and joyful anticipation, but if you struggle with stress and anxiety, visions of sugarplums may be the furthest thing from your mind. While those feelings may make you feel alone and stressed around this time of year, it's important to understand that many people feel this way and that there are steps you can take to alleviate your anxiety. Here are a few to try:
Set a Holiday Schedule to Combat Stress
With feasts and parties abounding throughout the holiday season, it can be difficult to maintain a schedule or sense of normalcy, both of which are important in avoiding chronic stress and anxiety. Setting aside time daily for small, practical tasks such as meals, exercise, and meditation can help you stay centered throughout the festivities, regain normalcy, and take strides away from your stressors.
Mentally Work Through Holiday Parties Beforehand
If you struggle with social anxiety or social phobia, the looming holiday parties can send you scrambling for safety and comfort of home. However, by mentally walking yourself through the event beforehand (alone or with a mental health professional), you can mindfully prepare which will help keep your anxiety in check.
Set Limits to Control Holiday Stress
It can be difficult to turn down holiday invitations, but overbooking can contribute greatly to stress and anxiety. Before you commit to any holiday event, weigh the pros and cons of attending: How badly do you want to go? How obligated do you feel to attend? Remember to always leave time for yourself to rest and rejuvenate. There will be time throughout the rest of the year to catch up with the friends or family you don’t see during the holidays.
Set Realistic Expectations for Your Holiday Season
Every gift doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Every party doesn’t have to be the greatest, and the holiday season won’t magically repair strained relationships. By putting aside superlatives and impractical goals, you can set realistic expectations for the holiday season and reduce the chance of anxious or stressed thoughts and feelings.
Stick to a Holiday Shopping Budget
With white elephant parties, hostess favors, and gift exchanges, the cost of holiday shopping can get out of control quickly, which can add stress and anxiety to the should-be joyful act of giving. Draw up a budget long before you start shopping and stick to it. Remember: it really is the thought that counts.
Seek Professional Help for Anxiety
Psychiatrists and licensed therapists can work with you to establish a personalized plan for dealing with your anxiety and stress at any time of year, including the holiday season. In Baton Rouge, the team of mental health professionals at Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge is here to help. Simply contact our office to request an appointment with any member of our team.