It’s the time of year when we find ourselves busier than usual as we gather with friends and family. However, even “good stress” can affect one’s routine and sense of balance. Here are five tips to help manage anxiety over the holidays.
- GET THINGS DONE AHEAD OF TIME It’s easy to push things off until later and suddenly find the list of to-dos has piled up. Do your best to stay organized by planning ahead rather than procrastinating. Organize tasks by scheduling them into your calendar. Last-minute items will be less overwhelming if you’ve taken care of the basics. Enlist the support you need. This will also help keep you accountable.
- KEEP TO YOUR ROUTINE The beauty of the season includes enjoying the extra events you don’t typically have in your schedule. However, you still need to take care of the daily tasks. Problems arise when we don’t prioritize the activities that keep us happy and healthy. This may include ongoing workouts, sufficient sleep, meal tracking, regular physical and mental health appointments, and eating at regular times. Do your best to stick to your routine. It’s important on a normal day and even more important in times of stress.
- SET YOUR EXPECTATIONS AHEAD OF TIME The holidays can often be romanticized. When reality fails to match your vision of sparkling snow, glittering lights, and pictures of relaxed family gatherings, it can leave you feeling deflated. It’s important to set realistic expectations. How much money can you actually spend on gifts? Can your children get through a gathering without a meltdown? Do you have time to go to that party? The key is to aim for what’s achievable and reasonable for you, not perfection.
- ESTABLISH YOUR BOUNDARIES Spending extra time with loved ones you may not see on a regular basis can be a wonderful experience but, in some instances, it can also be anxiety-provoking. In these cases, it’s helpful to set boundaries in advance. For instance, does your mom comment on your appearance regularly? Tell her ahead of time that the topic is off-limits. Decide on repercussions and follow through with them. Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s important to take good care of yourself.
- NOURISH YOUR MIND AND BODY In times of stress it’s important to have a toolbox of helpful anxiety-reducing techniques like visualization, deep breathing, and five-senses grounding. Don’t avoid your counselor or supportive friend because you’re busy. This may be exactly when you need them the most. Keep up the things you do to maintain your mental and physical health by making them a priority.