The holidays–it’s the most wonderful time of the year—and for many, also filled with holiday anxiety. You’re not the only one experiencing a reality far different from those peaceful scenes depicted in the movies. Twenty percent of American adults have mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and during the holidays especially, millions more experience anxiety triggered by the stress of the holiday season.
Anxiety is fear of a situation—so much so that physical symptoms appear, such as stress, irritability, sweating and heart palpitations.
Why does this happen to so many people? One of the main reasons is that holidays focus on family time and it can be a painful reminder to those that don’t have the perfect family situation.
People are much busier during the holidays, and the packed schedule of trying to get work and holiday shopping and planning done can make people feel extremely anxious. Travel creates stress, as does the darker and colder days and bad weather.
There can also be lots of financial pressure during the holidays, and unrealistic expectations that things are going to be picture-perfect.
There are two main things you can do that will really help.
- Set boundaries—schedule time for yourself and set boundaries about working late, and try not to over-commit to holiday and family parties.
- Ask for help. Talk to someone—a trusted friend, or even a professional.
Here are some additional tips to try:
- Try to get enough sleep, at least seven hours per night. You’ll be amazed how much this boosts your mood and improves your overall mental outlook.
- Keep exercising, as it also is a mood booster. Even if you’re in the mall, just walk around to get some exercise.
- Be social without over-committing socially. Don’t isolate yourself. Go have coffee with a friend, or go to a party that you normally would not attend.
If your symptoms get severe or unmanageable, be sure to seek professional help.