The holidays are full of merriment, family, and food, but for many it can also be a time of increased anxiety. It is not uncommon to feel overwhelmed to by the balancing act of a packed calendar and everyday responsibilities. Learning healthy coping mechanisms during the holidays can increase our resiliency and protect us in the long term.
What are some coping skills to use during the holiday season?
- Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) recommends avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. While it is tempting to use substances for taking the edge off, it can make anxiety worse and exacerbate symptoms of other mood disorders.
- Take the pressure off yourself. During the holidays we often over commit and set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Ease your stress by saying no and removing something from your agenda. Also, adjust your expectations and set realistic goals.
- Set a budget. Holiday expenses can quickly add up and we often get in the habit of overextending ourselves. Set a budget before the holidays kick off and only spend what you have planned.
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, reach out to your community or volunteer your time to help others. Engaging in activities can help lift your spirits and form new relationships.
- Soak up the sun. The change into the winter months can sometimes cause individuals to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression. Symptoms can include tiredness, mood changes, irritability, insomnia, overeating, and decreased interest in activities. Exposure to the sun can help ease symptoms and can be a calming tool.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits. The holidays can become the perfect time to overindulge. Try to have a healthy snack before going to events, get plenty of sleep, and incorporate regular physical activity into your day.
- Practice self-care. During the holidays it is important to take time for yourself. Reduce stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing, and restoring your inner calm. Take the time to enjoy your favorite activity.
Traveling during the holidays can also increase anxiety. You will not overcome your anxiety issue by avoiding travel or social situations, but these tips may help.
- Plan and confirm details. Try to leave a day early when airports and roads are less crowded. Confirm all reservations in advance. Also, allow ample time to pack to ensure you have everything you need including all medications and identifications.
- Think ahead. Think about your travel activities and prepare yourself for any anxiety inducing situations. Practice slow, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and meditation.
Lifeskills South Florida can Help
Despite trying your best to cope during the holidays, you may still fee consistently anxious, unable to sleep, irritable, and hopeless. If you find that your anxiety is persisting and preventing you from enjoying your holiday season, then you may need to seek professional help. Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness, and with the proper treatment, individuals can see a significant improvement.
At Lifeskills South Florida, we use a holistic approach to treatment by incorporating elements of mindfulness, meditation, and integrated primary care – all offering the opportunity for a complete recovery. One of the ways we help to alleviate anxiety and stress is through mindfulness and yoga. Our Certified Yoga Instructor, Alice Saltzman, works with clients to help them learn new coping mechanisms, controlled breathing, and control over their thoughts and emotions. Our professional treatment team partners with clients to design a customized treatment plan specific to their unique needs that promotes recovery, resiliency, and self-determination.