The holidays are meant to be a time of celebration and relaxation, but they don’t always feel that way. Even if you have plenty of things keeping your season “merry and bright,” there’s no denying that the holidays can be stressful.
When you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), that kind of stress can cause your symptoms to become worse. Instead of looking forward to the holiday season, you might be dreading it because of how it’s made you feel in previous years. However, there are things you can do to manage your GAD during the holidays. While you may not be able to take all of the stress out of the season, you can find ways to cope with it more effectively, so you don’t feel overwhelmed with worry.
Focus On What You Can Control
When you struggle with anxiety, a lot of fear comes from a lack of control. It’s the “what ifs” that tend to make thoughts race. Unfortunately, there can be a lot of “what ifs” during the holidays, especially if you have a lot of get-togethers to go to or events to attend. One thing you can do to help manage your fears over such things is to focus on what you can control, instead of what you can’t.
For example, you have control over which events you attend. You have control over how long you stay, and who you talk to. You even have control over what you talk about. Those might seem like little things, but they can make a big difference when they hold your focus, rather than honing in on the things out of your control.
Stick With Your Routine
Because the holiday season is often busy, it’s easy to get thrown off track when it comes to your routine. Your days might look different than they usually do. Sticking to a regular routine is important for everyone. But, it’s especially beneficial to those with GAD. A routine will provide a sense of comfort and security. This time of year, when things seem so busy and stressful, that kind of security can go a long way.
Do what you can to stick with your familiar routine. That includes going to sleep at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning. Getting enough sleep is another crucial component for managing your anxiety. When you don’t get enough, it’s not uncommon for your symptoms to become worse. So, make your routine a priority, and make sure sleep plays a big role in it.
Speaking of making things a priority, taking care of yourself throughout the season needs to be at the top of your list.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. From shopping to gatherings and from cooking to cleaning and decorating, there’s so much to do that you might feel like you don’t have time for yourself. That’s exactly why it’s so important to make time. Self-care is important for everyone. For those with GAD, however, a few moments of self-care each day can keep you grounded and help to keep your symptoms under control.
Self-care doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. It’s about finding something that helps you to feel relaxed and rejuvenated every day. For some, that might be exercise. For others, it could be cooking a healthy meal, reading a good book, or writing in a journal. Even things like meditation and mindfulness are forms of self-care to consider.
You don’t have to dread the holiday season this year just because you have anxiety. Keep these ideas in mind to take care of yourself and make the most of the season, and you might find that you’re actually able to enjoy it without feeling as anxious.