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Tis’ the Season for Anxiety

By: Charity Haigans M.A., LPC

As the holidays approach it can feel more like a speeding bullet train heading towards us than a yule tide gathering of loved ones. We often get bogged down with lists: to-do lists, grocery lists, gift lists, card lists…it goes on and on. So what is there to do when the season of giving turns into the season of stress? How do we manage all the people, parties, and tasks involved in coming together to celebrate? Here are a few quick tips to tone down the anxiety of the holidays and give yourself the gift of a fun and enjoyable season.

  • Minimize the decorating

For those of you who love to decorate and find it an enjoyable and soothing experience to hang stockings, douse the staircase with garland, and pin up lights to every corner of the yard, I say, “keep up the good work!” If you love Christmas decorating then make that a priority in your holiday planning. On the other hand if you find yourself tangled in strands of garland wondering “why me?” then put down the decorations and back away slowly. You don’t have to have tinsel hanging from every surface or three different Christmas tress to have a wonderful and satisfying holiday. You simply need the items that you find important. Let the rest go and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate instead.

  • Prioritize the “lists”

As I said we often find ourselves overrun with lists this time of year. Rather than attempting to do every last possible holiday related activity, make a priority list. Ask yourself “What are the things that I need to have a great holiday? What things would I truly miss if I didn’t have them?” Do you have to attend every party? Do you really have to visit every family member who would like to see you, or can you simply call them to let them know that you care for them and are thinking of them? Do you have to bake cookies for every neighbor? Take the items that you enjoy doing and the memories you cherish most from past holidays and make those the priorities. Then, let the others go. Remember that being relaxed and in good spirits during the holiday rather than running around trying to fit everything and everyone in isn’t going to give you or anyone else the holiday you’re working so hard to create.

  • Stop Competing

Without consciously knowing it we often find ourselves competing with those around us. We silently compare ourselves to the people in our lives. “Sally did this, this, and this, and she still had time to do this…I should be able to too.” “Their decorations looks so much better than mine.” It can become overwhelming. Take yourself out of the cutest Christmas card contest and let go of the “who attended what function” scorecard. You’re holiday is YOUR holiday and doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s. Besides, no one is actually going to show up and give you a trophy for winning this competition, so who and what are you really doing it for?

  • Don’t slouch on Self-Care

The best thing you can do for the people you love it take care of yourself. Putting off that enjoyable hobby, ditching the gym, or giving up that massage will cost you more in the long run. When we become overwhelmed with “to-do” lists, feel stressed, or pressured, we often cut out the things we do for ourselves to make time for everything else. Unfortunately, this means we aren’t doing those things to the best of our abilities because we aren’t at our best. Take care of you so that you can take care of others around you.

  • Stay in the Moment

Happiness can be lost or found in the moment. Stay focused on what is right in front of you, regardless of the lists looming in the background. Forget about “what’s next” and focus on “what’s now.” Every situation poses an opportunity for joy. Sometimes seeing it takes effort, but it is there. If you are finding it difficult to stay in the moment and find those things that bring happiness, try starting a gratitude journal. Write down the things you are grateful for at the end of the day. You may find yourself seeking those things out like a child with a “Where’s Waldo” book.

Remember the holidays are meant to be a time of joy and reconnection. It doesn’t take a tower of gifts or a perfectly prepared turkey to accomplish that. It only takes a positive attitude and a little perspective to make the memories you are striving to create.

Happy Holidays from Noyau Wellness!

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