For some people with anxiety, the holidays are a welcome distraction from the stress of daily life. For others, the holidays are a source of stress all on their own. If you fall into the latter camp, you may be looking for ways to curb your anxiety as the holidays approach. To help you out, we’ve compiled this list of five tips for keeping holiday anxiety under control.
1. Manage travel stress
Holiday travel is a major trigger for people with travel anxiety, who dread the big crowds, long lines, and short connections of the busy holiday season. While you might not be able to avoid the crowds, you can reduce travel stress by getting organized before you reach the airport. Have your boarding passes printed, your carry-on organized, and your pockets empty, and book longer connections so you have plenty of time to find your gate and grab a snack. To keep your mind off of turbulence, pre-load your smartphone with podcasts to listen to during the flight. These mental health podcasts will help you feel a little less alone as you battle holiday anxiety.
2. Get enough rest
Between anxiety, jetlag, and sleeping in a strange place, it can be hard to get quality rest over the holidays. But since good sleep is essential for emotional regulation, rest needs to be a priority even when you’re far from home. If your family home is hectic, consider renting a hotel room or vacation rental where you can enjoy peace and quiet. Taking CBD before bed may also calm your nerves and help you get to sleep. While CBD research is ongoing, preliminary studies suggest it’s effective in fighting both insomnia and anxiety — a great combo when you’re replaying dinner table conversations in bed at night. And unlike marijuana, CBD is non-psychoactive and readily available no matter where you live. In states with recreational marijuana, CBD can be purchased at dispensaries. Otherwise, look to well-regarded online CBD stores for supplements you can trust.
3. Avoid overindulging
Overspending, overeating, drinking too much — while they might take your mind off of holiday stress or make you feel better in the moment, these maladaptive coping mechanisms only leave you feeling worse. If you’re in the habit of eating or drinking too much to keep yourself busy during holiday get-togethers, make a conscious effort to consume slowly and sip on non-alcoholic beverages, too.
4. Focus on the positives
When reaching out to your support system over the holidays, avoid turning it into a vent session. Focusing only on the negatives will leave you feeling more discouraged heading into the next day. Instead, reflect on both the things you’re grateful for and the things you’d like to manage better the next time around. Of course, you’ll need to make sure your cell phone provider has coverage where you’re staying and that your plan includes enough calls, texts, and data to cover calls from home, so consider looking into unlimited phone plans before your trip.
5. Make space for relaxation
Finally, make sure you have the time and space to shut off over the holidays. You’re less likely to get overwhelmed if you’re not being bombarded with stressors 24/7, so set aside time at the start and end of each day for focused relaxation. This may come in the form of mindfulness meditation, yoga, or hypnotherapy sessions. The important thing is that your relaxation strategy works for you.
The best way to conquer holiday anxiety is to confront it — but not without a plan. Instead of heading into the holiday season unprepared and anxious, use these tips to arm yourself with an anti-anxiety toolkit that helps you manage your mental health during the holidays and all year round.
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