The holiday season can bring excitement and joy, but it can also bring anxiety. With long to-do lists, big expectations, social gatherings, gift shopping, and more, it’s no wonder anxiety can feel heavy this time of year. Fortunately, there are ways to manage anxiety, reduce stress, and help yourself stay calm. Here are three ways to cope with anxiety near the holidays.
1. Make a Plan
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done, try writing it all down. Creating a plan can help you feel more organized. Use a calendar to plan out when you will go shopping, when you’ll spend time cooking or baking, and when you’ll see family friends. Make a list of meals you want and write down a shopping list. If you’re traveling, write down your itinerary and make a packing list. If you’re buying presents, write down the holiday gifts you need and set a spending budget. Staying organized can help you feel prepared for the holidays.
2. Be Flexible
Even with a plan set, it’s important to remember that things don’t always go as planned – and that’s ok. Try not to set expectations unreasonably high and be prepared to be flexible when things change or don’t go to plan. Remember that the holidays don’t have to be perfect. Traditions sometimes change, people and families change, and food doesn’t always turn out as expected. Try to focus on enjoying the holidays rather than on making sure everything is perfect. Additionally, remember that you can say no. You don’t have to go to every holiday party you’re invited to, participate in every tradition, or see every family member or friend. Trying to please everyone and filling your schedule to the brim can contribute to stress and anxiety.
3. Practice Healthy Habits
Making healthy decisions can help you cope with holiday anxiety. Avoid using alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism to “take the edge off,” as this can actually make anxiety worse. Getting enough sleep and going outside for fresh air can improve your mood. While there are often lots of sweets around during the holidays, eating too much sugar can negatively impact your mood, so try not to overdo it and make sure to eat healthy meals and snacks. Try to stay in the present instead of worrying about “what ifs,” and practice stress-reduction methods like meditation and deep breathing to help you stay calm.
Bonus: Reach Out for Help
If you’re struggling with anxiety during the holidays, seek help. Make an appointment with a mental health professional or consider joining a support group. If you feel lonely, try getting involved in the community, such as through a social group, religious group, or volunteer group. Reach out to friends or family to tell them how you’re feeling.
If you experience a mental health or behavioral health crisis, visit a Connections Health Solutions center near you. We provide immediate access to 24/7 care in a safe, judgment-free environment.