This is the season of many things including lots to get anxious about. There are many holiday issues that can be a focus for anxiety. Conflicting desires, pressure from family commitments, entertaining, fears of being alone or alienated, unmet expectations – all these can lead to anxiety, stress and worry. Getting too busy can make us more vulnerable for anxiety as our self care gets neglected. Also if you are prone to worry and obsessive thinking or are dealing with loss or grief of a loved one, then this time of year can be especially challenging.
Anxiety can happen when there are many unknowns looming ahead and fear of things in the future not going right. We can all have images of what a perfect holiday would look like, as well as memories and fears of the negative side of holidays and how this time isn’t going to measure up. It is easy to have “shoulds” take over, the impossible desire for perfection and we struggle with controlling all the things we absolutely can’t control.
All this make us lose touch with the basics and the present moment. So how to recenter and not lose ourselves in anxiety? We can make a point to take time out to breathe, relax and just stop for a moment. We can connect with what “is” and what we have and begin to let go of pushing for perfection – notice when we are excessively thinking of the perfect gift, perfect family or perfect holiday. To ground ourselves in the simplicity of being, we can practice gratitude. With practicing gratitude, we make a point to be grateful for the love we have and can give, the blessing of taking time off to be with loved ones or even by ourselves. We look for things to be grateful for rather than obsess about what is wrong or needed or missing. We refocus on ourselves and try not to lose sight of what is actually important for us. By working on improving our own self-care, like slowing down or making sure we are eating and sleeping right, we are developing antidotes to stress. Taking care to nurture ourselves can help us truly feel better and be present enough to truly enjoy the holidays.