By Jirzia Blackman, LCSW-S—CEO-Founder
Experiencing anxiety during the holidays is not uncommon, and it’s important to acknowledge and address these feelings.
Set realistic expectations: Manage expectations about the holidays. It’s okay if everything doesn’t go perfectly. Focus on creating meaningful moments rather than striving for perfection. Create a plan for the holiday season, outlining priorities and activities. Having a schedule can help reduce uncertainty and provide a sense of control. Financial concerns can contribute to stress. Set a realistic budget for holiday spending to alleviate financial pressures and focus on meaningful, budget-friendly activities. Set realistic boundaries to protect your well-being. It’s okay to decline invitations or limit the duration of social interactions if it becomes overwhelming.
Prioritize self-care: Prioritize self-care activities, such as regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and moments of relaxation. Taking care of yourself physically can positively impact your mental well-being. Focus on activities that bring joy and reduce unnecessary obligations. Incorporate mindfulness or relaxation techniques into your routine. Deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help manage anxiety. In my personal experience, I have found diaphragmatic breathing, also known as deep belly breathing, to be a highly effective and versatile technique. This tool can be seamlessly incorporated into any situation or environment, providing a valuable resource for managing stress or anxiety. To harness the effectiveness of diaphragmatic breathing, it’s essential to first identify where you typically hold anxiety in your body. Personally, I notice sensations like heart flutter or butterflies in my stomach. Take a moment right now for self-analysis: ask yourself, “Where do I feel anxiety in my body?” Once identified, employ diaphragmatic breathing techniques. Recognize that it takes approximately 20-30 minutes for the body to ease into a calm, restful state. This self-awareness and intentional practice can significantly contribute to managing anxiety.
Positive thinking goes a long way: Shifting your focus to positive aspects of your life can counteract anxious thoughts. You see what you look for. Be intentional about seeing the positive side of things during the holiday. Maintain connections with supportive friends and family members. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust can provide comfort and understanding.
Remember that it’s okay to prioritize your mental health during the holidays. If anxiety persists or intensifies, seeking professional guidance can be beneficial. Taking proactive steps to manage stress can contribute to a more enjoyable and fulfilling holiday season. Feel free to reach out to a professional counselors at Rhapsody Counseling and Wellness Center at 210.286.9339.