Keeping Anxiety In Check While Keeping Up With The Holidays

The holidays can be a stressful time. Whether you’re hosting an event, attending holiday parties, spending the holiday alone, traveling, or you have a long list of presents to buy, the holidays can create or ramp-up anxiety. Recently, I posted 30 tips to help you survive the season but over the next few weeks I'm breaking them down by topic. This week my tips will help you feel more organized and in control this holiday.

Keeping to-do lists short and can reduce holiday stress

Keeping to-do lists short and can reduce holiday stress

Keep to-do lists short

Limit your lists to items you can realistically accomplish within an allotted time frame. If needed, allow yourself to let some things go. Looking at unfinished items on your list can add to your stress.

Organize your to-do lists by location

If you have three stores to visit, try to group your errands so you’re going to places that are near each other. Or you can organize your trip by the things you need to buy. For instance, if you’re grocery shopping for the week you can also stock up on the non-perishables needed for the holidays like stuffing mix, or turkey broth.

Budget your money realistically to reduce future stress

You don’t want to go into extreme debt trying to create a perfect holiday, only to find you are totally stressed out later because of all the bills.

Budget your time

Set time aside some time to do a little each week. If you put off everything until the last minute, you’re only causing yourself more stress and anxiety.

Focus on the task instead of worrying about what's next

Worrying about what you need to do tomorrow, or the next day, or the next can be paralyzing. Try to stay in the present moment and focus on what you need to do today. “Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether we worry or not.”
Ana Monnar

When you’re stressed, take a moment to breath deeply a few times

Imagine a soothing presence as you breath in, and a letting go of the stress as you breath out. Focusing on your breath can ground you and help your body relax.

Keep it simple to avoid holiday burn-out

It’s easy to over think things, and get stuck worrying about making everything “just right,” but this can lead to holiday burnout. When deciding what gifts, food, or decorations you need, try not to get too caught up in finding the perfect ______ (you fill in the blank). 

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to avoid or manage the holiday stress and anxiety, it can still overwhelm us. If you're struggling and feel you might need additional support, counseling can help. Counseling provides a safe, supportive, non-judgmental space to talk about what's happening. It also helps you find strategies to manage your stress and anxiety that work for you. Please call or email me if you think therapy might help you manage the stress of the holidays.

Photo courtesy of Olu Eletu for

Elizabeth Cush, MA, LGPC is a licensed therapist who works with high-functioning adults and adolescents experiencing anxiety and stress. She owns and operates Progression Counseling in Annapolis, Md.