The Christmas season is upon us again and some people may find it a stressful, lonesome and anxious time. There is a huge build-up to the day and it can be very difficult to juggle the build-up with work, family life and other commitments. It is important to remember that everything does not have to be perfect and that it is ok if things do not turn out as planned.
To decrease anxiety levels and lessen the stress leading up to and on the day of holiday celebrations, here are a few things I suggest to do this year.
1. Decide what’s really important. Delegate your time and energy appropriately. Let go of those activities that aren’t in sync with your overall intent for the holidays. Honour traditions that continue to be enjoyable for you and your loved ones. Set boundaries and do what’s best for you. Dealing with family members and in-laws can make the holiday season extremely stressful; even dreadful. It’s okay to tell your family that you won’t be able to attend every single-family function they have planned. Setting these boundaries and sticking with them will help prevent resentment from building.
2. Write it down. Writing down your feelings can help you to stop them from swirling around in your head and pin them down. This can help you think more clearly and not feel so weighed down. Get out all the negative first, and then focus on the good. Write down three positive/enjoyable things about the holidays.
3. Everything in Moderation. There can be a lot going on between the months of November and January, meaning a lot of parties, food, alcohol and spending. This can cause people to break their normal habits and feel out of control, which leads to increased anxiety and depression. Avoid overeating, overindulging, overspending and excessive alcohol consumption.
4. Take time for yourself. In this time of giving, don’t forget to give to yourself. Take a few minutes to acknowledge how you are feeling, take some deep breaths and relax. Go for a walk, surf the net, read a book, whatever you find helps you relax, do it. Prioritize a few tasks at a time rather than trying to tackle everything at once. Don’t be too busy to play. Adults need fun too.
5. Have Reasonable Holiday Expectations. There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays. We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays. The picture perfect holiday is literally impossible. Keep in mind that life is unpredictable, even if you have an itinerary prepared. Remember, we can all enjoy the holidays more if we keep our expectations reasonable.
6. Be balanced and keep it simple. Don’t feel pressured to go overboard. Being balanced might include giving yourself a break when you make a mistake or miss a party/gathering. Keep your sense of humour. To maintain a sense of balance, be realistic about what you can and can’t do and set limitations for yourself.
7. Focus on people and relationships. Holidays are a time for being together. Relax, sit down, and enjoy time with those people who are important and truly matter to you. Be with people who support and care about you. Accept family members and friends as they are.
All of these strategies are actually aimed at your behaviour instead of your family’s. That’s because in the end you cannot control how anyone else acts during this time, or ever. The only thing that you really can control is how you react and respond to different people and situations.
If your anxiety is interfering with your life you may need outside support. Please give Cabin Counselling a call on 087 6203371.