7 Tips for a Stress and Anxiety Free Holiday Season

7 Tips for a Stress and Anxiety Free Holiday Season
by Robert Wright, Jr., Ph.D., COFT


Many American look forward to the holiday season expectantly, viewing it as a joyous time, filled with celebratory parties, sumptuous feasts, gift giving rituals, and laughter. For these Americans, the holidays represent a happy time where sharing with family and friends is looked upon as beneficial and positive. However, for a significant number of Americans, this same holiday season may actually increase their levels of anxiety and stress as well as intensify their sense of loss, separation or loneliness. “Why?” For these Americans, the holidays may be bittersweet since their stress and anxiety levels may soar, as they experience a deepening of their sorrow because they may link this time to the loss of a close loved one.


Some other Americans may actually dread the holiday season since it may trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that strikes individuals during the winter months, causing them to become despondent, depressed or lethargic. Others may dread having to spend time with people they do not like or having to travel during peak rush hour periods. Anticipating such future possibilities can cause some Americans anguish, leading to unwanted increases in blood pressure, bodily tension, aches and pains, and fatigue. Feelings of guilt may also arise as an individual wrestles with the ever-present question of whether to “show up” at gatherings out of a sense of duty or concern about what others might say.


Regardless of whether you view the holiday season with joyous wonder or with dread, taking stock and becoming more aware of how stress and anxiety may present themselves in your life helps you maintain a sense of balance and perspective so that you do not become overwhelmed. The purpose of this article is to show you practical ways to reduce any stress or anxiety you may have surrounding the holiday season so that it is more enjoyable; and, to provide helpful tips to those who may feel “down” during this season. Here are 7 tips you can use to increase your enjoyment of the holidays and be a source of support.


Tip #1: Take Stock: Advance planning can provide you with an emotional “safety net”. Begin to prioritize what’s important to you so that you can avoid last minute rushing which can create havoc and chaos. Is your goal to visit as many friends and relatives as possible? Or, would you rather attend fewer parties and have more quiet time to reflect? Answering these questions helps keep your stress and anxiety levels minimized while providing you with the “meaningfulness” you seek.


Tip #2: Avoid Peak Shopping and Travel Times: An easy way to reduce stress and anxiety is to stick to shopping and travel schedules which lower confusion and chaos. Shopping and traveling when it’s less hectic may automatically lower your stress and anxiety since it’s easier to stay calm and relaxed when you’re not being jostled or stuck in a traffic jam.


Tip #3: Use Mental Rehearsal to Your Advantage: Using your creative mental powers to visualize in advance positive end results of social interactions can help you remain calm and relaxed. For instance, by anticipating how you might deal with a “difficult” individual helps you avoid potential conflicts.


Tip #4: Avoid Overeating and Excessive Drinking: Being surrounded by delicious foods and encouraged to drink can easily lead to heartburn and other “bad” outcomes. For instance, a person who becomes drunk at a party may embarrass themselves and say and do hurtful things. Maintaining self disciplined eating and drinking is one way to insure that you do not become sick or land up arrested for a DUI.


Tip: #5: Be A Safe Driver: Several recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NDTSA) studies report dramatic increases in both fatal and non-fatal accidents due to distracted driving caused by cell phone use and texting. Consider giving your cell phone a “vacation” while driving so that you do not become a statistic.


Tip #6: Become a Holiday Angel By Being A Good Listener: You can assist others by becoming more aware that they may be sad or suffering emotionally during the holidays. Putting on your “Listening Ear” can often sooth others since taking time to listen can make others feel heard and loved. You can become an “Angel” with an inviting smile or a “soft” touch.


Tip # 7: Engage in Self Care: Remember to use the airline mantra “to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others” as a helpful guide. Remember to take time to pause and reflect and be good to yourself too!


Copyright © 2013 StressFreeNow. All Rights Reserved.

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