Got Holiday Anxiety?
With Thanksgiving comes tension for some. . .
10 Plus Tips To Cope
Don’t Let Anxiety Ruin Your Holidays
By D. S. Mitchell
Turkey and Pumpkin Pie
The holidays are right around the corner. Some are excited about turkey and gravy, and fancy wrapped presents, but others see only stress and anxiety on the horizon. If you are hosting parties, the stress level is on steroids; fancy china, excited young ones, guests, surprise and otherwise. It can seem overwhelming. Read on if you are looking for some tips on how to get you through the holidays as anxiety free as possible.
Stay rested and recharged, ahead of the holidays. Take time for yourself. Get enough sleep, engage in activities that you enjoy and make you feel good. Don’t skip self care routines under the pressure of the approaching holidays. Don’t do it-skipping health care routines will cost in the long run. You need that 30 minutes of cardio and any other health activities you are engaged in. These activities will keep you balanced and ready to face the upcoming holiday challenges. It just might be yoga, biking, stretching, Tai Chi, or aqua aerobics, that saves your sanity.
Everyone has different triggers, and identifying them is one of the most important steps to coping and managing anxiety attacks. Common ones, your first day at a new job, heading an important meeting, meeting your SO’s parents. Time and reflection will be required to identify your triggers. In the meantime, there are things you can do to try to help calm or quiet your anxious mind.
4.) Use aromatherapy
Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood are soothing. Certain receptors in your brain are activated by aromatherapy.
5.) Walking or Yoga
Just walk away if the situation is causing anxiety. It might be time to focus on your body and not your mind to relieve your anxiety. Just move. Whether it’s the pool or the yoga mat, move your butt, it helps reduce stress. Try stretching, it can be incredibly beneficial.
6.) Write down your thoughts
Many mental health therapists suggest a client write down what’s causing their anxiety. Writing it down, gets it out of your head and can make it less daunting. My mother used this one, on a regular basis. She would write letters to the offenders and put them in envelopes addressed to whoever was causing her frustration and then stick it in a file, never sending it.
Not All Anxiety Is The Same
Five Strategies For Coping With Long-Term Illness
If anxiety is a regular part of your life, not just around the holidays, it’s important to find treatment strategies to help you manage it. There might be a combination of things, like talk therapy and meditation, or perhaps cutting out or resolving your anxiety trigger. Confused, as to where to start? It is always helpful to discuss options with a mental health professional who might suggest something you hadn’t thought of before moving ahead with your plan.
Some Well-Known Triggers:
- a stressful work environment
- DNA-genetics — anxiety, depression, alcoholism can run in families
- drug withdrawal
- medication side effects
- phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
- some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma
- chronic pain
- multiple mental illness diagnoses (such as depression, OCDC, anxiety)
Managing Those Triggers
Sometimes triggers can be obvious, such as caffeine, alcohol consumption, and drug use. Other times triggers are less obvious and we may need a therapist to help us isolate those triggers. Long-term stress, such as financial or work-related situations, can be more difficult— is it a due date, a person, or the situation? At this point you may need some extra support, through therapy or with some trusted friends.
Once you do figure out your trigger(s), you should try to limit your exposure to them if you can. If you can’t limit it — say because it is due to a stressful work environment that you can’t currently change — using other coping techniques may help.
1.) Try Meditation
A successful meditation regime will take time and practice. When done regularly, you can train your brain to dismiss anxious thoughts when they arise. If sitting still and concentrating is difficult, try starting your exercise routine with more active physical exertion and then start your yoga routine.
2.) Adopt Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT helps people learn different ways of thinking about and reacting to anxiety-causing situations. A therapist can help you develop ways to change negative thought patterns and behaviors before they spiral into a panic attack.
3.) Healthy Diet, Regular Exercise, Embrace Life
Exercise regularly. Eat balanced meals. Get enough sleep. Stay connected to people who care about you. You may want to talk to your psychiatrist about adding supplements or nutrients to your long-term strategy.
4.) Consider Adding Supplements
Research shows certain supplements or nutrients help reduce anxiety symptoms. Some of these include:
- lemon balm
- omega-3 fatty acids
- green tea
- valerian root
- dark chocolate (in moderation)
It can take up to three months before your body is actually using the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor. I’ve said that twice. I cannot say it enough. Different medications interact with one another whether OTC or prescription. Talk to your doc.
5.) Prescription Medications
If your anxiety is severe enough that your mental health practitioner believes you’d benefit from psychotropic medication, there are a number of directions to go, depending on your symptoms. Discuss your concerns with your doctor.
Is My Anxiety Harmful?
Identifying what variety of anxiety you’re dealing with can be challenging-mainly because everyone’s body reacts to danger in entirely different ways. I’m sure you have heard “anxiety” used as a general term for feeling worry, uneasiness, or nervousness. It is often situational, a big dance, a speech, a tryout; it is often a feeling grown in response to an upcoming event that has an uncertain outcome. Every human being deals with such emotions-at some time in their life. It is part of how we are wired, our brains respond to perceived danger, even if there is no real danger.
Things Can Get Dark
There are times anxiety can get serious and turn into anxiety attacks that may begin slowly and initially feel manageable, but build up over a few hours. (Panic attacks are different. A panic attack comes out of the blue and then subsides.)
Signs and Symptoms of an anxiety attack
These are some of the more common mental and physical symptoms of anxiety:
- feelings of danger, panic, or dread
- rapid heart rate
- gastric problems
- difficulty focusing
- rapid breathing, hyperventilating
It is possible to have both an anxiety and panic attack simultaneously. The quick coping strategies mentioned above may also help with a panic attack.
Try focusing on an object, repeating a mantra, closing your eyes, and going to your happy place.
If you notice that quick tips haven’t been working, you may want to consider seeing a professional for help. Especially if you believe you have GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and the symptoms are interfering with your daily routine and physical symptoms. A mental health professional can help with identifying your triggers, maintaining long-term strategies through behavioral therapy, medications, and more.
Living With Anxiety
If your anxiety stems from a past trauma, it can be helpful to work through those issues with a licensed therapist. On the other hand, if your brain chemistry predisposes you to persistent, chronic anxiety, you may need to go on medication to manage it. Anxiety is likely to continue to be part of your life, but it doesn’t need to take over your life. Treatment is available to help control those painful symptoms and make those holidays at least tolerable.