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How to Manage Anxiety Through the Holidays

Many people look forward to the holidays, but for some of us, this busy time can also heighten our anxiety. Whether your anxiety spikes at the thought of large holiday gatherings, seeing extended family, or eating at the dinner table, it’s important to make a plan for how to manage your anxiety in advance. 

At Boston Neurobehavioral Associates, we have years of experience helping patients in the greater Boston area manage anxiety and anxiety disorders. Our team of compassionate psychiatric providers, led by Dr. Mohammad Munir, has compiled these helpful tips on how to manage your anxiety during this holiday season.

Keep an eye out for Seasonal Affective Disorder

If the long nights and short days of fall and winter seem to get you down every year, you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. SAD is a disorder that causes seasonal depression and seems to be triggered by a lack of sunlight in the winter months. 

Because Boston is relatively north of the equator, you may be more likely to experience SAD than locations that are closer to the equator and therefore get more sun. If you’re concerned you might have SAD, we can help diagnose it and suggest treatments such as SAD light therapy lamps. 

Know your triggers and plan around them 

If you already know certain types of events or experiences will stress you out, try and make a plan to cope with them in advance. For example, many people experience a lot of financial anxiety about buying gifts and shopping. If this sounds like you, try to make a budget in advance and consider shopping online or earlier in the holiday season. 

If the thought of overeating at the dinner table makes you worry, try to snack before attending a holiday meal and plan what you’ll serve yourself in advance. By having a plan in advance, you’ll feel more confident and capable when your anxiety trigger arises. 

Keep it simple

The holidays are stressful on their own already; there’s no need to add to the anxiety by complicating things unnecessarily. While you might feel pressure to see everyone, cook everything from scratch, or make personalized gifts, it’s important to know your limits and keep things simple whenever you can. 

For example, if the thought of hosting a holiday dinner is stressing you out, consider making it buffet style or even booking a table at a restaurant instead. Simple means less stress, but it doesn’t mean less special! 

Take time-outs 

It’s easy to burn out during the holidays because of the social pressure to see everyone and do everything. That’s why it’s even more important to take time out for yourself when you can. With a busy schedule, it may feel impossible to do but even a quick walk or a nice bath can help you feel refreshed without leaving you feeling short of time. 

Additionally, if you experience social anxiety, consider taking breaks at holiday events. You could try to arrive early and make a short appearance before leaving, or take a break in the middle to recover some energy. By pacing yourself in advance, you’re less likely to feel exhausted and anxious during the holidays. 

No matter how your anxiety manifests, we can help you navigate the stress of the holidays and improve your coping mechanisms through treatments such as psychiatric medication and talk therapy. You don’t have to cope with your anxiety alone; our team can help. To get support, call any of our locations in the greater Boston area or request an appointment online.

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