Managing Stress Around The Holidays

Dear Dr. Darcy: I’ve had anxiety on and off my entire life. Now that I’m in my 20’s, I’m realizing it gets worse around the holidays, especially when I’m visiting my parents. I’m out to my family and can’t even imagine how much worse it will be when I finally bring home a partner for the holidays. Is this normal? Is there anything I can do about this?

ANSWER

Oh, the joy of the holiday season. Holidays are by FAR the busiest time of the year for me (and for other shrinks as well, I suspect), which you should remember the next time you ponder your sanity as your stress level soars at the prospect of going home for the holidays.

The holiday season exacerbates all of our stuff, whether our stuff is usually under control, barely under control or somewhere in the middle. Here are 3 primary reasons for why holidays cause stress:

  1. Demands on our time increase: We have more social obligations, we have more tasks to complete to prep for holidays, and we have less time to ourselves.
  2. Financial pressures mount: Forget the expense of gift buying... Just hosting a holiday dinner is costly. My grocery bill for Thanksgiving for 3 people was $250.00.
  3. Family interactions increase: Most of us move out of our childhood homes shortly after college, leaving behind a slew of unresolved family issues. The distance that comes with moving out tends to lessen the tension between family members, which in turn lowers our motivation to resolve issues. Those unresolved issues are among the first to greet us when we visit family. Even if you manage to keep your distance much of the time, holidays tend to be non-negotiable for most.

With all the added pressures, most people find themselves overwhelmed during the holidays. Here are a few of my favorite stress-busting tips:

Keep a daily gratitude journal beginning on Thanksgiving, for 30 days. Stress and gratitude can’t coexist, so not only do you eradicate your stress, you feel good on top of it. You get 2 for the price of 1.

Work Out a minimum of 3 times weekly. Cardio is best but any exercise will do, for a minimum of 20 minutes each time. Think of stress as extra energy (which it is). It needs an outlet. Get it out.

Meditate. Before you roll your virtual eyes at me, hear me out: I’m not suggesting that you do this on your own. I’ll share with you a tool that I personally use…It takes the burden of mindfulness and self-control out of meditation and it literally does all the work for you ~ while you sleep. Sound crazy? I require every one of my clients to use this program in order to work with me. It’s changed my life and it’s changed the effectiveness of my practice. I’ll write at length about it in a future post, but for now, give yourself the greatest gift this holiday season and click here for a free demo from Holosync. You’re welcome, in advance.