Maybe you’re not truly an all-out grinch, but that is exactly how you might feel once the holiday bells start jingling.

There is a reason, though. You probably aren’t sporting an onion stained smile just for kicks (like Mr. Grinch). No. Your reason has seven letters and smells worse than rotten fruitcake – ANXIETY.

Who needs the stress, after all?

While the holidays should be a joyous time, you might find yourself in a vicious cycle consisting of stress, anxiety, and the love-hate relationship most of us have with holiday music.

Anxiety doesn’t have to hijack your holidays, though. You don’t have to let it.

Here’s how.

Take Care of Yourself First

The holiday season is filled with ideas of being kind to others. But your self-care routine should not go ignored because you’re focusing on others more.

Practicing a healthy self-care routine is necessary. It could mean the difference between feeling anxious and maintaining your calm.

Following are some simple guidelines to follow that could have a positive impact on your state of mind.

• Get enough sleep – Ample sleep can provide a refreshing perspective on each new day. Conversely, sleep deprivation makes most things seem a lot worse.

• Keep a steady and healthy diet – Now is not the time to be changing your diet significantly. Sure, you can treat yourself to good food at family gatherings, but within reason. Food influences your mood in a profound way, so keep that in mind as you raise fork to mouth.

• Use exercise to help boost your mood – Eating is usually the theme surrounding holiday festivities. Exercise should be, too. Exercising releases powerful chemicals to your brain that serve as serious boosts to your mood. Take advantage of that. Even 20 minutes of exercise every few days could make a difference.

• Do something special just for you – It’s the season for giving, so don’t forget about yourself. No need to be lavish, though. Time alone to watch a movie or read a book could be the perfect gift.

• Experience nature – Although the weather might be a little chilly, a brisk walk or even sipping a cup of coffee on your porch could be very rejuvenating.

• Socialize with your friends – Simply because the holidays are focused on family gatherings, don’t overlook precious friendship connections. Take time to nurture your social life. Social support is invaluable, and socializing has a way of offering a different perspective.

Limit Your Holiday Exposure

If you’re like most people, there will be work events and family gatherings galore. These parties and get-togethers can be incredibly overwhelming. You might feel obligated to attend this one or that one. That’s okay.

You don’t have to stay until the end, though.

When you feel like it’s time for you to leave because you’re exhausted or overwhelmed, leave. Don’t force yourself to stay because other people are staying.

Know your own limits and respect them. Doing this will save you from feeling drained and anxious. Drained because of the party you just left, and anxious for the next one.

Keep Your Expectations in Check

It sometimes seems like the holiday movies have opened a big door for anxiety. With all the picture perfect decorations and meals, it’s impossible for us real humans to match that.

Avoid letting the holiday hype get to you. Do what you can, and that is enough.

Also, remember that people don’t magically change for the holiday season. For instance, if a certain family member is typically shy and standoffish, then don’t expect a party animal to suddenly emerge.

Hope is a positive emotion to feel, but it’s not the same as unrealistic expectations.

Take the first step…

If you’re ready to take a step toward changing your life for the better, I would like to help. Please contact me by phone or email so that we can discuss how we might work together to achieve your therapeutic goals as quickly and effectively as possible.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Linda K. Laffey, MFT

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