Ok friends, I have been looking forward to writing this super cute and lighthearted post about decorating for Christmas. It's definitely one of my favorite activities and something I look forward to all year long. As I sat down to write that post, I just couldn't get into it. So, I knew it was time to write this post about anxiety during holidays instead.
I have suffered with anxiety on and off for many years. I struggled for years with infertility, health issues and anxiety. I have never taken medication for it ( I prefer to use natural methods when possible) and I also never had any official help to learn how to manage it.
Over the years I have found a few things that really help to reduce my anxiety and even allow me to have extended periods of time with no anxiety. I have ideas and tips for what to do to help veer off the road when you feel like you are heading down the road to having constant anxiety. However, today I feel compelled to write about what to do when you are right in the midst of severe anxiety.
For those times when you feel like the weight of the world is pressing down on you and you might never get out from underneath. I'm here to share my story and my tips that I hope will let you know that you are not alone AND to show you that it IS possible to take actionable steps to help reduce your anxiety. It's really empowering once you take some of these ideas and make them part of your life.
Anxiety is difficult to deal with at any time of the year, but I think it can be extra challenging to have anxiety during holidays because there are so many added expectations. Other people may be completely unaware of how you are feeling and they won't understand when you are unable to do something that is so easy for them to do.
I have talked before about how powerful positive thinking can be in our daily lives. It definitely plays a role here. So, know that you ARE capable of doing really hard things and that you can work towards getting a better handle on your anxiety during holidays and year round. Please share your thoughts and questions below. I would also love to have you tag me on Instagram #peachtreedr and share some of the things that help you when you are struggling the most.
Here are a few tips (in no particular order) that I think will help lessen your anxiety during holidays and also year round.
5 Tips to Reduce Anxiety During Holidays
This may sound like a really simple tip. I'm here to tell you that even though it's simple, it works. Since we are looking for results, I hope you won't dismiss it because it seems so basic. There are lots of different ways to practice breathing. If the idea is new to you, start small. Start with something as simple as counting while you breathe and take the same amount of time to breathe in as you do to breathe out.
Practice that breathing when you are lying awake in the middle of the night, when you wake up in the morning, or any time that you feel like life is spinning out of control. It may not fix everything all at once, but it is ONE thing that you can have control over. That feeling of control and the breathing itself, go a long way towards helping to reduce anxiety. It probably won't happen after one try, but over time, you should begin to notice that it helps.
If you are like me, it seems that your anxiety during the holidays increases. You may feel like you don't have time to sit down and think about breathing. I would urge you to take just a few moments and try it. You might be surprised to see that when you allow yourself some time to just be in the moment, that it will allow you to do all the other activities that you need to do.
If this is something that you want to explore even more, I highly recommend that you look into doing some relaxing yoga sequences or perhaps meditation. Find something that works for you and don't worry (I know that's hard to do) if it's not the same as what someone else is doing. It may be really simple and short or it may be a longer practice.
Surround Yourself With Positive and Inspiring Words
Worlds are really powerful. The words that we allow to occupy our minds have the ability to uplift, inspire and motivate us. Conversely, they also have the ability to discourage, dishearten and even stop us from moving forward. So how do make sure to have the kind of words that are going to help rather than hinder at the forefront of our minds?
This answer may look different for everyone, but I will share how I have used positive words and thoughts to help pull me out of a deep pit of anxiety. I like to keep quotes all around my house that I will see as I go about doing my business. I have quotes by my kitchen sink, in the laundry and in my bathroom. I made a gallery wall with quotes that I change around from time to time to give me new food for thought when the other words have sunk deep into my soul.
When I first wake up I read inspiring words that help me to feel hopeful and excited. I surround myself with people who speak encouraging and motivating words. I listen to music that has positive and beautiful words that touch me deeply. Basically, I surround myself with as much goodness as I can. There are times in my life when I need that almost constant reminder of encouragement and hope. I have found that when I fill my mind with all of the good words that there is less space for all of the thoughts that come with anxiety. It doesn't happen all at once, but over time you will notice that it helps to lessen your anxiety.
Take care of yourself
I would say that anxiety during holidays is often intensified by a lack of proper amounts of sleep, water, nutrition and exercise. Though each of these are basic fundamental needs, it is easy to get out of balance when you are trying to tackle lots of things in a little amount of time.
Between parties, concerts, shopping, wrapping,decorating, baking, making memories, creating traditions oh yeah, and all the rest of your every day responsibilities it's no wonder that people forget to eat or drink water or exercise and just forget about getting a proper amount of sleep.
I'm here to remind you that it is DOUBLY important if you want to reduce anxiety during holidays to make sure that you have a good balance in nutrition, water intake, exercise and sleep. That doesn't meant that 100% of the time you have to be exact, just be mindful that it's really important to take care of yourself and try not to constantly get into the habit of pushing those needs aside.
If you go to a party and eat lots of rich, decadent foods, make sure that the next few days after that you throw in more vegetables and fruit to counterbalance. Carry a water bottle around with you to remind yourself to stay hydrated. Park your car far back when you go shopping for gifts and sneak in a little exercise that way. Stay out late for the special parties, on occasion, and then set your bedtime a few minutes earlier on other nights.
Again, this advice is very general because only you know what is going to work for you and there is no sense causing more stress and panic by trying to fit yourself into another person's mold for what a healthy and balanced life looks like. If you stay mindful of caring for your own basic needs, you will find what works for you and learn to leave the rest behind.
Connect With Something That Makes You Feel Whole
For me that means spending time outside. Every time that I feel really anxious I try to spend some time outside. There is something very calming to me about feeling the wind and connecting with the trees, flowers, mountains, water, rocks or other natural elements that I might find.
Depending on the season or where I am at I might try to garden, take a hike, lay in the grass, stop and smell flowers, go snow shoeing to a remote place, or just take in the beauty all around me. That connection helps to remind me that there is a loving God who created all of these things for us to enjoy and that even though life might seem out of control, there is a God of order presiding over all.
Whatever it is that allows you to feel grounded and peaceful and allows you to step away from all the cares and worried that seem to pile up endlessly, DO IT! You may not be able to do it every day, but I hope you will be able to do it often.
Plan Ahead So You Don't Get Overwhelmed
I am a firm believer in planning ahead, especially when I go through spells of time where my anxiety is raging rampant. When I take the time to think through a situation from start to finish I find that I can plan for many possible scenarios. That doesn't mean that I am constantly prepared, but in general I am prepared. There is a certain level of comfort and peace that comes from knowing I have done my best to prepare. Then, I am able to let go of the rest and truly enjoy myself.
One way that I minimize anxiety during holidays is to plan for them well in advance. I always aim to finish the bulk of my Christmas Shopping by Thanksgiving weekend. For more detailed information about my strategy you can click here to read the post.
Since I know that December is a really busy month, I do a lot of the time consuming work before the holiday season is upon us. That has really gone a long way in helping to reduce my anxiety during the holidays. When my anxiety is heightened I get really nervous in big crowds and fighting traffic is something I can't even consider tackling. By planning ahead I am able to avoid those situations altogether. Planning a head is a great way to reduce anxiety during holidays and year round.
I have used these tips year after year to help me have the less anxiety during holidays! It took me a long time to figure out what I could control to help with my anxiety. Some things definitely are out of my control, but I feel better when I know that I can do something to minimize the affects.
My hope is that by sharing my story and the tips that have helped me, you in turn will know that there is hope even wen you feel like there is no hope. Also I hope these tips will give you some ideas for what you can do to help manage anxiety during holidays and in every day living as well.
If you liked this post you might be interested to see some of these other posts about emotional well being.